What is unique about the Mill Market Farmers’ Market? The building was once a municipal fish hatchery, with the tanks formally used to grow fish, now turned into stalls. It’s now a year-round Farmers’ Market in Sault Ste. Marie called the Mill Market. The Sault Ste. Marie Fish Hatchery was built in 1987 and closed several years ago.
Their clever re-purpose of space is just one of the reasons this marketplace is more popular now than ever. It opened in 2013 and has helped to make the local food movement become alive and well in Algoma. Located just west of the downtown core of Sault Ste. Marie, at 35 Canal Drive, in the historic “Mill District” beside the St. Marys River and the Hub Trail, the Mill Market buzzes with activity every Saturday.
Robert Pryor is the Market Manager and he told me that the “farmers for this market come from around the Algoma District which includes the western part of the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Prince Township, St. Joseph Island, Echo Bay, Desbarats and as far as outside Thessalon.” Bob mentioned that “many people are pleasantly surprised to know that many farmers in Algoma have been able to extend the growing season by using covers and greenhouses for some of their crops. This means that local food can be grown nearly year-round.”
There are strict criteria for farm vendors at the market, with the main requirement that food must always be sourced within Ontario. Most of the food is grown and produced right here in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma, as it’s too expensive to transport it from Southern Ontario. Vendors sell their own products or will sell for their farm neighbours, with clear signage indicating where it comes from. Farmers are also happy to share the growing practices of their farm – just another reason to buy local!
Mill Market Farmers’ Market has 34-36 vendors on a weekly basis throughout the season. This number is pretty much the same throughout the year. Along with primary producers (farmers, ranchers, fishers, wildcrafters, fibre artists and nursery growers), there are also crafters and artisans, as well as prepared food vendors. The Mill Market only approves products that are made, baked, grown, raised, caught or harvested by an approved vendor in Ontario that may be sold at the market. All primary producers and prepared food vendors must comply with Algoma Public Health Unit Regulations and must have Health Unit approval to sell their products at the market.
About upcoming plans for the market, Bob shared some exciting information;” As part of their downtown revitalization plan, The City of Sault Ste Marie envisions Mill Market Sault Ste Marie relocating and becoming an anchor tenant of their new city core plaza development in the not too distant future". Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available through the Mill Market’s social media channels and local media.
As part of the Mill Market’s mandate this farmers’ market strives for this ideal;
“From farm to table, Mill Market connects Northern Ontario farmers to local consumers strengthening the local food economy and nurturing healthy communities.”
The food, the vendors and the atmosphere make it a pleasure to shop at this market.