History of Summerside Farmers Market by Arthur Davies
In 2005 we were contacted by the director of the Shipyard Market to see if we would be interested in having a booth at the proposed Farmers’ Market at the Shipyard. My wife (Tina) said yes and was the first vendor to sign up.
After 2 years we told that they (Shipyard) could make more money on a Saturday by holding weddings, we would have to move. We were offered Sunday. That was, for us, out of the question. Eventually we were offered the corridors of Three Oaks for a market. This was taken.
It was at this time that Tina asked me (Arthur) to intervene and help the market find a suitable location. I contacted the Oran Group, from Ireland, who had purchased the Waterfront Mall. We discussed and agreed to hold the market at the Mall in the Cafeteria area.
We arranged for a number of vendors that we knew, to gather and commit to being part of a Farmers’ Market. However, we came across a road block when the local grocery store objected. I followed this up with a friend of mine who knew the family who owned the store. They were fine with our proposal but said that the local manager had the last say. The concern was that we would take away business from them. This was interesting as we were at that time, basically an “Organic” market and the local store had no organic produce. Subsequently our agreement was ended.
I later received a call from a friend who asked to meet with me concerning a possible location for a market. Arnold Croken was the head of SRDC. I met with Arnold at the Holman building and we talked about it possibly being the location for the Market. Arnold asked how many vendors do I have, “20” I said (little white lies are okay?) I actually had 3-4 committed. Arnold thought “20” would be perfect. so we proceeded, and agreed to a plan for a Summerside Farmers’ Market.
Tina and I went busy with phones and contacts eventually coming up with 20 people who would agree to be a vendor. We met at the Holman building. The interest was good, although the location not so good. The ceiling was a bit too low for us. However, we decided to go forward.
The following week Arnold connected me and suggested we meet at the Holman building. He had a different location. It was perfect. We met with Architects and the plan came to fruition. That was in 2008. We negotiated an agreement that would establish a low vendors’ table fee until we were finally established. Arnold kept this agreement and only recently did that vendors’ fee increase. We opened the first Saturday in July.
We immediately moved to become a “Cooperative.”We formed a board and agreed to a constitution. The first three years were really tough. I received numerous emails with all kinds of complaints. We weren’t advertising properly, we weren’t making enough money etc. I continued to state that give us three years and we would be fine. We are in our 10th. year and doing great. We finally have a “Farmers’ Market” mentality with, hopefully a long term aim to be Summerside’s primary location  for locals and for visitors. I am proud of what we have done and of our present vendors.
I do have many photos etc. of previous markets in Summerside from Paul Offer and Gerry Reichhold – both former members of the original Summerside Market long before my time. Photos to come.