Many Feathers: How this farmers market is helping a community

When you can’t find a community initiative surrounding sustainability and local farming what do you do? Well you don’t just stand there you go out and do something!

Hey FoodGrads Tribe! This week I wanted to share with you an exciting example about what you as student can do not only to help your community but also what you can do to pave your way in the food and beverage industry.

So how can a student do all this and more? Well by starting a farmers market and community garden!

Introducing Many Feathers

Many Feathers is the name of a non-profit based in Mississauga, Ontario that has projects to promote food sustainability and environmental awareness. These projects come in the form a weekly farmers market and community garden. The market acts as a location for local businesses and entrepreneurs to come together and sell the products to the hundreds of people who come to the market each weekend. The community garden on the other hand is used engage with the community through urban agriculture and locally grown organic produce.

The People Behind the Market

Samantha Staresinic, along with Nicole Lilauwala, Sarah Cavalluzzi and Kevin Kaspari founded Many Feathers in 2014 because they found there was a lack of community resources to promote food sustainability and environmental awareness in their hometown of Mississauga. Their vision was to start a weekly market that was close to home and allowed customers to purchase fresh produce, baked goods and watch live performances all while supporting your local community. Clearly they are doing something right because the market is now on their forth year.

Below is my one on one interview with Samantha Staresinic where she explains what is Many Feathers and what she does in her role as a Director of Operations.

Building on a belief

The success of Many Feathers can be contributed to the three pillars which are followed by every decision made by the co-op. The three pillars of Many Feathers are:

  • Empowerment – The belief that food empowers people because when people take control of their food and health, they also become empowered in all aspects of their lives.
  • Sustainability -  Many Feathers is upholding sustainability because they consider sustainable development an organizing principle for human life on a finite planet.
  • Community- Community is different for everyone but Many Feathers believes that  creating and establishing strong communities opens great possibilities for what can be accomplished.

Jobs Aplenty

While roaming the farmers market I had the opportunity to speak to passionate individuals performing a wide variety of jobs. Every week the vendors that participate at the market change based on the time of year and produce which is in season.These people all come from different walks of life but a doing meaningful work. Some of the careers which I came across were Farmers Market Director of Operations, an Apple Farmer and a Farmers Market Representative. On my particular visit I was able to explore the booths of Martin’s Sweet Farm, a farm that specializes in honey and maple products and  B’s Truly Couture Cupcake, a gourmet cupcake truck.

Below is a highlight of my interview with Peter Fraser of Martin Sweet Farm’s and his journey of working for free on an apple farm to today.

A Community Garden

Many Feathers is not just stopping with their farmers market! In addition to the market they also have a community garden, which is owned by Cross of Life Ministry Centre. The garden is over 1,000 sq ft with over 30 types of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit! The garden isn’t just for growing food for the market but so much more. Many Feathers has committed to donating 20% of each harvest to a local community organization, saving and collecting seeds for next season and hosting harvest dinners for all of our volunteers.

The most exciting part about the garden is Many Feathers team is using it as a learning tool to teach children about topics surrounding  gardening. Mini Feathers is a junior gardeners program designed for children between the ages of four and twelve to enhance learning outside of the conventional classroom.

Be the Change!

The season might be over but they are expected to start again in the 2019 season. If you would like to get involved and live in the Mississauga, Ontario then follow the email above

You can be apart of the change in your community.

Author: Veronica Hislop Veronica is a recent FoodGrad working as Quality Assurance Technician at a snack food company. She graduated with a Chemistry degree at Ryerson University and has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavours you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.

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