In 2009, the Unionville Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market began. Working with long time Unionville activist, Jeanne Ker-Hornell, Bob Stiver created the farmers’ market on the grounds of the Stiver Mill primarily to raise public awareness of the Mill’s plight which had fallen into disrepair. The Market proved to be highly successful in accomplishing its goal of restoration of the Mill.
The City of Markham allowed the Market to set up beside the Mill and assisted with grounds maintenance, providing picnic tables and garbage cans.
Bob and Jeanne worked hard to solicit farmers and vendors and the official grand opening took place in June 2009 with the Mayor and Council members present.
Now in its sixth year since conception (the Market was closed in 2013 due to the restoration of the Mill), the Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market is growing with an ever increasing mix of vendors, many of whom have been there from the beginning. In the fall of 2014, a smaller market was successfully continued inside the restored Mill until Christmas.
On summer Sundays, the Market has become an important gathering place for the community, especially for resident seniors from the nearby campus. They come with their walkers and scooters to buy farm fresh veggies and stay for breakfast/lunch with friends while listening to live entertainment that changes weekly. “It’s like an outing” says one senior.
Along with local farmers and their great displays of fruits and vegetables, there are bakers, meats, flowers, crafts and more. The Farmers’ Wives Table is another big hit at the Market. Jeanne dreamed up the idea of having “decent donated articles” from the villagers that can be sold reasonably at the Market.
Special events were introduced in 2014 and have quickly become popular events. An Artists Day was held in July, Butter Tart Baking Contest in August and in September Dog Day at the Market. Check out the Photo Gallery to see more pictures.
The Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market is unique because it is the only known Ontario farmers’ market that has been created and managed solely by volunteer seniors and a highly organized group of enthusiastic high school student volunteers. In 2014, seniors Bob Stiver and Jeanne Ker-Hornell, co-managers of the Stiver Mill Farmers’ Market hired competent Judi McIntyre (also a senior) to take over the business side of the Market dealing with bookings, paying bills, etc. This leaves Bob and Jeanne to deal with their own market responsibilities and volunteers involved. Judi is well known for her work with the Markham Arts Council, York Region Arts Council, as well as past Executive Director of the Unionville B.I.A. and one of the founders of the Markham Farmers’ Market.