Farmers take to Charlottetown streets for open air market

Mitch MacDonald
Published on October 4, 2015

Thousands enjoy the benefits of country living during Farm Day in the City event

Downtown Charlottetown saw an agricultural invasion this weekend as thousands of P.E.I.'s farmers, artisans and consumers brought a fresh helping of country living to the city.

Fresh organic produce, Island-made crafts, farm animals and even some homegrown beer were showcased during this years Farm Day In the City.

The Fall Flavours event saw Queen Street, Victoria Row and the Confederation Centre plaza transformed into a large open air market on Sunday.

Collaboration was key, with one booth seeing three producers, Jen and Derek's Organic Farm, Heart Beet Organics and Soleil's Farm, teaming up for the event.

Jennifer Campbell said it was the third year for the three producers to collaborate under one booth.

"We're in a growers' group so we actually get together through the winter and exchange ideas," said Campbell. "For one day a year, we actually come together and we all sell together. Everyone brings their own products and it works great."

The idea of working together was evident throughout the market, which saw thousands pass through during a bright and sunny afternoon to see the best of P.E.I.'s agriculture.

"I love the open air market concept and I think a lot of others really like it too," said Campbell. "I wish more farmers would come because the streets here are so full. We've sold out of a lot of our products."

However, the day wasn't just for the province's more traditional farms and producers.

An expansion in size allowed for a wide range of diverse producers and products, which included hot peppers and craft beer.

Amiel Leblanc, of Maritime Madness, saw a large interest in his hot sauce as well as fresh grown jalapenos, habanero and cayenne peppers.

While Leblanc began growing the peppers several years ago, doubling his fields last year and opening a new store in Montague, have helped facilitate selling fresh peppers.

"It's been really busy and it's our first time doing this," said Leblanc. "People are responding well, we were here the last three years ,but we didn't have the fresh peppers then."

While Leblanc's company has been selling their hot sauce in P.E.I. since 2008 and began growing their own produce about three years ago, many consumers were surprised to learn the peppers could be grown in P.E.I.

He said that growing the peppers is somewhat of a gamble.

"We had a frost last night and there's still two thirds of our crop in the ground, we didn't get any damage, but it is kind of high stress," said Leblanc. "You have to choose between harvesting early to be safe but not getting as much fruit, or waiting it out."