Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market celebrating 70 years of food, farming and fostering community
FREDERICTON, N.B. -- On Dec. 20, 1930, David Coburn’s grandfather sold 24 pounds of butter for $8.16 and four and a half dozen eggs for $2.25 at the farmer’s market, which was outside Fredericton’s city hall.
Wearing a heavy bear coat, he would take his goods by sleigh along the icy river on a Friday, stay in a hotel, and attend the market in the morning.
It looks a little different today, but Coburn says the value of a market to a farmer remains the same.
“I’m a sixth generation farmer and I know we can trace back that we’ve been going back to the farmer’s market at least four generations. But I suspect it goes back to the sixth,” he said. “The first market in Fredericton was actually started in 1815. And of course, it was a way of survival, to get food and goods to the people.”
In 1951, the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market was realized. Coburn Farms has been there from the beginning.
Coburn says the market is about connecting consumers with the people that grow their food, while also fostering community – and perhaps, a little Saturday gossip.
“It doesn’t matter whether you have a dollar in your pocket or $1,000 in your pocket, at the Boyce Market, you get treated the same,” he said. “The other thing I noticed when I was younger, you would see people talking at the market when they wouldn’t even speak to each other out on Queen Street through the week. It’s a leveling out of society at the market.”
Market chair Stacey Russell says the pandemic has been challenging. But as the Fredericton fixture celebrates its 70th year, it’s getting back on its feet.
“We’re now at, I believe, about 110 vendors and that’s still growing every week,” she said. “So that experience is there and we definitely want to make sure people understand that the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market is open and in many ways, back to its normal self.”
It’s consistently made lists of top farmers’ markets in Canada and is a favourite for university students who, Russell says, soon become long-time customers.
Coburn has a market museum in one of his barns at his Keswick Ridge farm. Pictures of markets from Saturdays-past line the walls, along with a certificate marking its 50th year.
“It’s where rural meets urban,” he said. “It’s where you can talk directly to who produces the goods that you’re buying and that’s the magical part of it.”