I must start with a confession. When we first met in April of 2021, we had no idea what we were doing.
We knew that we wanted there to be a Farmers’ Market in Dalhousie, but none of us had any real experience organizing such a thing. We were just a group of neighbours/moms/ residents/ enthusiasts. And we all really liked Farmers’ Markets.
After a whirlwind of research (and licensing requests, applications, many City of Calgary conversations, a lot of support from the DCA board, meeting with other community market organizers, and contacting hundreds of vendors), we opened on a beautiful Thursday afternoon with all our approvals in place.
I must confess (again) that my biggest worry was that no one would come. We had promised so many vendors that it was worth their time and money to take a chance on our small market, during COVID when so many vendors were struggling to stay open. I had visions of tents lining the field and three or four people meandering through. Our whole committee worried that all the hundreds of hours of work we had done would be for nothing.
Thankfully, my fears were completely unjustified. Dalhousians came. In spades.
I still get a little teary-eyed when I think of those first few moments. We opened our first market to a long lineup of people who couldn’t wait to get in. And they just kept coming. First by the fifties, then by the hundreds. At a certain point in the day, I turned to my husband and said, “Is this my greatest accomplishment?!?!” (As in, can anything else I do in life top this awesomeness).
We had over a thousand people attend our first market. Many vendors sold out completely. Our beloved Market Manager, Sonja, was run off her feet! On average, since opening, there has been regular attendance of 800 to 1,000 each week. Huge credit must go to Sonja (said beloved Market Manager) who “flew” with our committees’ vision and planning and helped our market to be considered “one of the best-organized markets in the city”. (We have heard this repeatedly from several market vendors). With her help, the market was moved indoors over the winter and we have become a certified Alberta Farmers’ Market!
After we handed the reins of the market over to Sonja and the DCA, we realized that (as a committee) we wanted to work further with the DCA to build more wonderful things for our community. If COVID has taught us all anything, it is the incredible value of our neighbourhood! When the world shut down, we could still chat (albeit from a distance) with our neighbours while we meandered through our beautiful system of back pathways. My kids still found joy in the playgrounds and fields near our home. The Farmers’ Market became the social epicentre of my week. Instead of spending weekends exploring the city; we spent our weekends close to home, seeking adventure nearby, and discovering for the first time (in some cases) the many delights that Dalhousie has to offer.
So, we have officially formed a Community Engagement Committee. We aim to “engage residents in the delights of Dalhousie, one project at a time”. On the horizon, we have the beginning plans for a Winter Festival event. Be on the lookout for more information in the months to come (right now, we are aiming for the Family Day weekend in February). We are also in the beginning stages of plans for a wonderful new community garden (hoping to open this Summer 2022).
We can not do this alone! We are a small but mighty group of volunteers, and we would love your help!! You can contact us at [email protected] to give us your feedback and to participate in planning these community events. Above all else, we want to hear from you, the delightful residents of Dalhousie! Please stay in touch!
Rochelle Lamoureux (on behalf of) the Dalhousie Community Engagement Committee (Iris Hau, Alexandra Campbell, Anna Kjellqvist, Christina Erickson, and Rochelle Lamoureux).