October 5, 2011 - 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 8 will be the last day of the season for the Downtown Windsor Farmers' Market and organizers will celebrate another successful season with a harvest party that is open to everyone.The festivities begin at 8 a.m. with the first 50 guests receiving a free gift, a handmade item from regular market-goers Faerhaven Naturally. Family portraits will be offered all day so bring friends, kids, or the dog and have a seat in the festive setting. At 10 a.m., Nana's Bakery will bring out a large slab cake and invite everyone to enjoy a piece of dessert. CJAM will be on hand to give out stickers and information about the University radio station.And, of course, there will be farmers, the Essex County vendors that make the market what it is, a fantastic community gathering space with access to fresh, local and seasonal food all in one place."The availability of vegetables is great right now," says Natalie Bownes, market chair. "We have all of the fall favourites but some of those summer treats are hanging on too."Bownes is proud of what the market has achieved since it's creation three years ago and thanks farmers for their ongoing support, especially through the long and frustrating process of finding the market a permanent home. The City of Windsor and the site selection committee that it formed had ruled that the market's current location - the former Greyhound bus station - was the ideal place for the market to stay, with Pelissier Street coming in at a close second. What the committee was not presented with though was the fact that the bus station was off the table and that an alternate to Pelissier Street should have been chosen.When polled about the possibility of moving to Pelissier Street, not a single market vendor wanted to go. Vendors do not want to be inside of a parking garage though, even if that means having access to washrooms (something that the current site does not allow for). Pelissier Street was also the former site of a failed market that was run for a two-year stretch in 2006 before the current market's reincarnation. Some current market vendors tried participating at that time and said that the refuse to go back. Bownes has presented the city with a request for a different location but no decision has been made.
The City suggestion for a Pelissier Street market is to remove the store fronts underneath the parking garage (currently vacant) and convert them to parking spaces that can be rented out on weekdays, putting the market in there on Saturdays. In discussions, Mayor Eddie Francis said that Pelissier Street is a good option, has many of the required amenities and that concerns the vendors have can be quickly addressed. The street has undergone significant renovations and streetscaping that could offer a nicer atmosphere for the market and possibly boost foot traffic to surrounding stores. The city had also suggested that a Saturday street closure might be made available to allow for vendors to spill into the street, meeting their request for an open air feel.Regardless of where the market will end up, Bownes offers a bit of hope for the short-term, reminding people that many of the farms operate later into the season or even year-round, “Just because the market is closing down for the season, doesn't mean you have to stop supporting local farmers. Many still sell directly from their farms and there are a lot of delivery services that have started up.”The market's final day coincides with Chatham Street's tailgate party and the road from Ouellette to Goyeau will be closed from October 7 to October 10 to allow for extended patios, live evening entertainment, and outdoor screenings of football games (including Monday night's Lions game). Access to the Chatham Street parking garage will still be available.