Reflections from a vendor & volunteer at the South Osborne Farmers' Market
Written by Quenifer Lung
To this day, I consider signing up to be a vendor and volunteer at the South Osborne Farmers' Market to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
My experience being a vendor at the market in Summer 2020 was fruitful, to say the least. I’m actively involved in KidsKatwalk, a youth-led fundraising campaign based in Winnipeg, with the goal is to host community fundraisers around the city, with 100% of the funds donated to Canadian health charities. KidsKatwalk has hosted two bake sale fundraisers at SOFM throughout the summer, raising over $307 CAD in total.
I’m only a sophomore in high school, therefore I lacked the financial ability and management
capability to start a booth from scratch. After briefing through different markets across the
city, I committed to the South Osborne Farmers' Market because of how inclusive it is. They
welcome all sorts of vendors from a diverse background to this small community, while
supporting local businesses, artists and bringing the neighbourhood together with a special
bond. The market welcomes first time vendors, youth vendors and low-income vendors etc. This all inclusive program gives ordinary people with a passion a chance to really shine!
Planning to host a bake sale fundraiser at the farmer’s market would normally be a stressful
process, but SOFM’s platform really eased the process. Prior to this summer, I had absolutely no experience or clue to operating a booth at a farmers' market. However, this never interfered with the successes of the fundraisers, as SOFM's internal system is
straightforward and user friendly. The organizers are always responsive to my concerns,
making the whole process efficient. Adding onto my previous point, information regarding
being a vendor is neatly displayed on their website and in the Vendor Handbook, guiding me
through the process of becoming a vendor, from set up to market rules to selling during
Our first fundraiser was on July 22nd, it was to sell small homemade treats and I specifically
remember being anxious about a vendor’s worst fear - not being able to sell a single item.
The night before the market, I was on my kitchen table burnt-out, calculating the amount of
money lost in worst case scenario. Little did I know how supportive and close-knit the
community is at the market... Our fundraiser booth only ran for two hours before we sold
every single item off the shelves, leaving our mouths dangling wide open. Overall, the
attendees of the market were genuinely supportive of our booth, in fact, we didn’t even
encounter a single rude customer! At the end of the day, we raised $175 CAD for The
Children’s Hospital Foundation Of Manitoba to help fund medical research, and were over
the moon with how our first experience turned out.
As a vendor, I fell in love with the general vibe, the live music and the friendly cheerful
faces at the market every other week. That was the reason why I decided to sign up as a
volunteer and continue attending the market every week throughout the summer.
Volunteers at the market come from every corner of the city, each having their own
background story, and a unique reason that brought them to the market. The South Osborne Farmers' Market is built on local community, and with volunteering at the market, opens you to the opportunity to meet people all around the city. Volunteers bring each other up and help one another out during the market. Volunteers either volunteer at the front as a greeter to
incoming guests, at the back as at an info stand, and the beef garden, where all the alcoholic
drinks are served. Each volunteer plays a critical role in the operation and transactions,
ensuring the safety and maintaining high spirits within the market.
Looking back at my experience from volunteering at the market in the past summer,
volunteers have always been approachable and helpful, and I have had unforgettable
conversations with other volunteers that I have just met during my shifts. Not only that, but
my involvement in the community has also built up my self-confidence and social skills,
which was beneficial when it came to meeting new people.
Signing up to volunteer was a huge step out of my comfort zone, and was quite intimidating
at first, but with the overwhelming support from other volunteers and as I spent more hours
at the market, I look forward to spending my Wednesday afternoons at the market.