The sweet smell of baked goods, fresh food and wildflowers now floods the pavilion on Friday nights in the town of Hampton.
The Lupine Market was started by Gillian Cormier and Elizabeth Malatestinic, when they recognized that more could be done to help support local farmers and businesses in their hometown.
After attempting to follow a 100-mile diet in May, the pair of friends soon noticed how difficult it was to eat locally grown food, especially as vegetarians. While selection is greater in the summer, it was still challenging to only consume foods produced within a 100-mile radius.
This realization inspired the pair to start a weekly market in their community. With the nearest markets being in Kingston and Saint John, they felt it was time to introduce a local market in Hampton.
“I think people in Hampton are really open to new ideas, that’s what makes this community so nice. People are ready to accept something and be a part of the community,” said Cormier.
Lupine just successfully completed its fifth week in operation, and the community has responded with overwhelming support.
COVID-19 has definitely posed a challenge, but with precautions being taken, the market has still managed to flourish.
Lupine has given local farmers, artists and businesses a new outlet to share their passions with members of their community.
”It helps give a platform for some of those farmers to brand themselves. We had somebody here who was selling microgreens and mushrooms. He sold stuff here for a few weeks, and now he is doing his own thing, but Lupine gave him a space to connect with the community and his customers.”
Local food is an important focus at Lupine. Cormier said that food is something that can be – and should be – inclusive.
“By having that direct contact with customers, the prices are more affordable than the grocery stores in some cases. It’s sustainable because it’s grown locally with organic practices.”
Sustainability is one of the top priorities for the market. Cormier said that they set a certain criteria for their vendors to be sustainable in their own way, without making it feel exclusive.
Cormier and Malatestinic let vendors know that they wanted to stay away from single use plastics, and they wanted to know where the products come from and how they are made.
Their commitment to sustainability has encouraged some vendors to make positive changes in the way they operate.
“For example, we had somebody selling their meats here, and they actually changed their product to be local meat instead,” said Cormier.
And the impact goes beyond just that. Some vendors would have previously traveled to markets farther away, spending excess time and money, and emitting more gas. Lupine has provided local farmers and businesses with an outlet to sell directly to people living in their community, helping them cut down on costs and emissions.
“Cutting out all of the middle men helps farmers – and that direct transaction between farmers and customers helps sustain local food production,” she said.
In the future, they are hoping to partner with more local organizations in the future to make healthy, nutritious and sustainable food more accessible for everyone in the community.
She said that building relationships with vendors, seeing their passions and having their values coincide with those of Lupine has been really amazing.
Lupine offers a space where vendors can not only connect with their community, but also share their passion and educate others.
“We have a honey farmer here who does demonstrations about why bees are important, which is amazing. One thing I would like to see at this market is an educational booth – but the vendors are the educators themselves.”
The market not only offers a space for vendors to connect with their customers, but also a space where the people can come together and enjoy everything that their community has to offer.
It is helping shift mindsets and show people the importance of self-sufficiency, sustainability and community.
Hannah Moore is a recent graduate from St. Thomas University, currently working as a Food Security and Regenerative Farming Reporter for the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick.