Part of a series about the Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market, written by Valerie Davies.
Phil Roberts – Volunteer Coordinator of the Winter Market
by Valerie Davies
In 2008, while campaigning to be elected Mayor of Annapolis Royal for a second term, Phil Roberts promised that he would institute a winter market for the Town. When this didn’t happen in the first winter after he was elected, he was told by the town’s Marketing Coordinator that reasonable vendor fees wouldn’t raise enough to pay for a market coordinator. So, in his second winter of this mayoral term, Phil decided to serve as volunteer coordinator of the Annapolis Royal Winter Market.
To find a suitable site was the first challenge. The former Historic Gardens restaurant building, a storage and sometime meeting area adjacent to the Kerr House, housed the Winter Market in the winter of 2009 – 2010. It was roofed but not insulated and unheated. The floor was so cold vendors stood on sheets of matting, cardboard, and foam insulation to try to keep warm.
The following year, at the suggestion of a vendor, Historic Gardens Manager Trish Fry agreed that the Winter Market could well go into the Gardens gift shop during most of the winter. (During the few weeks at either end of the season when the shop was still open, vendors could set up outdoors.) The Winter Market is now in its eighth season under this arrangement.
Each Saturday morning Phil Roberts opens the doors for the vendors at 8 am. Before the market opens an hour later, he sets out the street signs and readies the tables for the incoming vendors and assists in set-up. During the market, he writes out receipts and collects table fees from the vendors (proceeds go to the Historic Gardens in return for venue expenses and marketing ) and counts (with a “clicker”) customers during the three hours of the market. The average number during most of the winter is between 150 and 200 but greatly increases during the shoulder seasons when the Town’s population is greater and vendors have more produce to offer.
Phil also oversees a fundraising table at the Winter Market for the Friends of the Annapolis Pool Society (FAPS). They welcome small household donations and toys, but not books or larger items. Nothing is priced on the FAPS stall. Buyers just drop a donation into the jar. (During the summer Farmers Market Phil, assisted by other volunteers, also mans the FAPS table in front of Lucky Rabbit Pottery on Church Street.)
Apart from the many loyal regulars that shop at the Winter Market every week, new arrivals and visitors find the venue a great spot for becoming part of the community. Some of the newer vendors, such as Lazy Bear Brewing, have brought a whole new range of customers to the market. It’s a great meeting-place and gives us all a heightened awareness of the great range of produce and goods available from our own people. The Winter Market has made all of this possible. Thank you Phil.
The Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market runs every Saturday morning, 9-12, from mid October through mid May at the Historic Gardens.