The Halifax Farmer’s Market

Halifax’s Farmers’ Market, born in 1750, is Canada’s oldest continuously-running farmers’ market. It is also, according to food mogul Anita Stewart, one of the top ten markets in Canada (click here to read the full list compiled for Canadian Geographic). Any shopper who has ever woken early on a Saturday morning to peruse the goods at the Halifax Farmers’ Market knows it is a true national gem.

Housed in the Alexander Keith’s Brewery building, its serpentine paths, stairwells, and cave-like rooms lead you through twists and turns each featuring their own vendors. The main space, well lit from skylights above, is full of produce from farms, orchards, and vineyards selling all sorts of fruits and vegetables in season, often organic, and definitely local. The Creperie Mobile is a local favourite with its nutella or savoury crepes served Parisien style. Steve O Reno’s perfect cappuccinos pair nicely with this decadent breakfast, or head downstairs and join the long line for a rustic baguette from Boulangerie La Vendeene (and take home their buttery, chocolatey pepito for later). A couple other personal favourites are the hard cider, fresh oysters, Acadian meat pies, and Dutchman’s Farm blue cheese by the appropriate name of Dragon’s Breath. They’re not kidding.

This farmers’ market opens early, beginning at seven in the morning —and it’s not unusual to see a few keeners arrive even earlier. Clusters of musicians keep the hallways full of hand-clappers and conviviality, there are often other performers and artists, and there is always, without exception, a large crowd. While I lived in Halifax for four years, the Saturday morning market was a major hub of my social circle. Everyone met there for breakfast and groceries, no matter how late their Friday nights had gone. Now the Halifax market is open six days a week and soon the whole bazaar will be moving toward the water and setting up camp along the pier.

The shift to the Seaport Market, as it will soon be called, allows for a brighter space that will be open year-round, six days a week. Not only is the new venue more spacious, allowing for more local vendors, it is designed to have a minimal ecological footprint. Salvaged wood was used in the building and solar panels and wind turbines will supply the majority of the electricity. A green roof and natural lighting round out the design (click here to see the Seaport Market plans) that is an inspiration for markets across the country.

If you’re heading Eastward, make sure to check out the Halifax Farmers’ Market (the new venue aims to be open by 2010); it is perhaps the best place to eat and meet in the city and it gives visitors an authentic taste of what Halifax has to offer. – by Katie Zydbel

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