Martin C. Barry
With some of the richest agricultural soil in Quebec located on a large swath of its territory, the City of Laval plans to expand a marketing program for locally-grown produce to large grocery stores, according to a member of the executive-committee at city hall.
Focus on local
While many Laval residents were on vacation in mid-July, officials from the city as well as from grassroots community groups gathered in a green space near the Cartier Metro station to mark the opening of a small open-air market that will be selling locally-grown fruits and vegetables there for the rest of the summer.
This is the second year for the Halte du marché, although the first time that it’s located near the Cartier Metro stop. In its first year, it was set up temporarily in a spot along des Prairies Blvd. near des Laurentides Blvd.
Open until October
The concept was developed with financial assistance from Saveurs de Laval and additional support from several community groups including the Association des popotes roulantes de Laval, Enfant d’Abord and Au panier.
The outdoor space was set up by the city in conjunction with La Pépinière Espaces collectifs and will be open until Oct. 18 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:30 pm to 7 pm.
Operated by Écomarché Cartier, the outdoor market will be selling fresh fruits and vegetables as well as artisanal baked goods, organic honey and other products. Small shows and events are also scheduled to take place there at various times over the remainder of the summer.
“We want to try to enlarge this project so as to take it to other areas of Laval also near Metro stations and transit hubs,” said Alexandre Sicard-Roche, a community organizer who has been overseeing the progress of the project. He said that in the coming years they hope to expand with additional outlets.
Prime farm territory
“One of the big advantages we have in Laval is that we have some of the most fertile land in Quebec,” said Sainte-Dorothée city councillor Ray Khalil, who sits on the executive-committee, while also chairing the city’s Agricultural Consultative Committee (CCA).
“There are different factors to our initiatives, and one of them is bringing agriculture closer to the people,” he added. “At the same time we have very strong economic and urban development in Laval, we have the advantage of being able to combine both.
Close to the land
“The farmers of Laval have the advantage of being so close to the people who live here,” said Khalil. “A lot of them have kiosks right in front of their farms where you can go and buy fresh strawberries and raspberries. People love it. It’s one of the beautiful things about living in Laval and we have to maximize this advantage.”
Although produce grown in Laval has always been available from roadside kiosks, Khalil said the city is working on a strategy to see local fruits and vegetables distributed and sold in the region’s grocery stores as well. “It’s something we’ve been working on for a couple of years and we hope to make an announcement in due time,” he said.
A place to socialize
Laval city councillor for Duvernay/Pont-Viau Stéphane Boyer, who also sits on the executive-committee, said he is pleased with the way the Halte du marché project has been developing.
“This project is in response to a need that was expressed by citizens of the sector,” he said. “The Halte du marché, in addition to offering fresh foods, will also encourage gatherings, discussions and sharing, all of which are good for the revitalization of the neighbourhood.”