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Plans underway to broaden use of Cambridge Farmers’ Market

The Cambridge Farmers Market Advisory Committee is exploring options for a community food hub to help activate the market more than one morning a week
USED 2021-09-13 good morning cambridge
Checking out the fall harvest at the Cambridge Farmers' Market.

The Cambridge Farmers’ Market wants to ‘build community through food’ as it plans for a community food hub.

Since the market building stands unused except for one weekend morning, the Cambridge Farmers Market Advisory Committee is exploring how the market can be much more than a building that benefits downtown and the community.

The Community Level Business Plan was brought forward in a report at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

“The committee is undertaking a ‘visionary exercise.' With community engagement, it is looking at growth in our community and how the market can grow with it,” said Hardy Bromberg, deputy city manager of community development at the City of Cambridge.

The planning committee includes stakeholders and partners from the market, downtown, and within the community, participants in interviews, surveys and open house sessions, as well as City of Cambridge staff.  

“There are some big building projects coming to our downtown core. We expect 65,000 residents will be welcomed to Cambridge in the next 30 years. There is a lot of growth happening. We want Cambridge to become a destination spot, and the market is part of that,” Bromberg said.

“Cambridge is unique and on the cusp of growth. The LRT is about to start running at the end of the decade. This will bring in a lot of investment. Now is the time to integrate these ideas and look at these growth opportunities and this includes opportunities for growth at the market.”

The report says that the idea of food reaches across cultures, income, and plays a major role in the economy. The food hub can support community and its entrepreneurs and celebrate and enrich culture and diversity.

As a food hub, the market building can be used for public placemaking, for engaging, informing, enjoyment and learning, a focal point to connect the community.

Planning for a new “community level” includes innovative food programming possibilities that would support the food sector in Cambridge.

This includes a ‘demonstration kitchen’ and bookable spaces which could be used for programming, events, seminars, day camps, meetings, skills development, mentoring, food demonstrations, and engaging food producers and vendors within the Farmers’ Market sector and beyond.

Opportunities for increased use include a community oven, a café, an artisan deli operating both weekdays and market days, weekday take-out, and more opportunities for market vendors.

The Cambridge Farmer’s Market building was designated as a heritage structure in 1984. The building’s continued use as a market is unique in Ontario.

“The market is at an outstanding location and for the last 200 years, the market has been a place for food, long before groceries. We are coming back to these roots, back to our history but with an eye to the future,” Bromberg said.

“These are ideas that the committee continues to work with and will continue to research.”

Moving forward, the City of Cambridge says it will work in collaboration with the Cambridge Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee to better utilize the market asset, and to assist with the development of downtown Cambridge.

The plan for a ‘community food hub’ supports culture, entrepreneurship, a sustainable relationship to the land, and a healthy community.

“We are mapping out a pathway, offering a market with opportunities through the week. There is so much potential for growth,” says Bromberg.

“As the community grows, so will the market. This is the vision.”