St. Catharines Farmers Market: Discovery Table and Educational Tours

The St. Catharines Farmers Market wanted to showcase farmers and vendors, promote local food and healthy eating and have fun activities for children. “I know it’s a lot, but our Market Discovery Table does it all – with good planning and a great host we’re able to make magic happen for kids of all ages,” says Deanna Chakorova, St. Catharines’ Community and Market Co-ordinator.

What happens?

  • The market sets up two 6’ tables – the front one is branded as the Market Discovery Table and the other is used as the craft table and to display information of what is happening around the City of St. Catharines.
  • The market engages a host, who is familiar with the market and St. Catharines, who prepares the food samples for presentation and craft supplies for the weekly activities.
  • The host oversees the table for 24 weeks in the spring/summer, 3 weeks in December and 3 ‘event’ days prior to the spring/summer – Family Day, Easter and Mothers Day.
  • The market stocks the Market Discovery Table with tourist information and other city and market information including free material such as recipe cards and promotional items from Foodland Ontario, Greenbelt and other local small business.
  • Market shoppers visit the table for information, to sample products or to let their children do the day’s craft activity.
  • Children ask to go to the market to visit the Market Discovery Table.

Who makes it happen?

  • The St. Catharines Farmers’ Market provides the space, tables and funding for The Discovery Table.
  • Market vendor’s products are featured but the market staff feel strongly about purchasing them to support their farmers and vendors.
  • Dena Colling Gelentso, a retired schoolteacher, who has been the Table’s only host in its eight years makes it all happen.

What are the results?

  • Over 200 shoppers visit the Market Discovery Table each week to sample local market products, get healthy eating and cooking tips and tourist information.
  • Over 50 youth visit the Market Discovery Table to participate in the day’s craft.
  • The market has engaged youth and demonstrated that the market is youth friendly.

Educational tours

  • The market reaches out to public and private schools, non-profit organizations, new Canadian centers and training centers offering free educational tours of the market and its farmers and vendors.
  • The 1-hour tours are offered during the market’s weekday hours and are lead by the Market Discovery Table host.
  • Tour groups are given a ‘taste of the market’ as part of their tour by means of apples of locally grown products from the farmers.
  • Each year, more than 700 youth and adults experience the market on the tour.           

We wanted to find ways to showcase our farmers and vendors while sharing information about healthy food and nutrition – the Discovery Table does that and more!”

Deanna Chakarova, Community & Market Co-ordinator City of St. Catharines

Doing sampling, providing information and overseeing the kids craft table is a bit hectic – it takes weeks leading up to each table to plan and prepare – but boy, do those two hours at the Discovery Table ever fly by.”

Dena Colling Gelentso, Host of the Discovery Table

The City of St. Catharines’ Farmers’ Market was established in the 1860s. The market’s bright glass-enclosed pavilion is nestled next to the historic courthouse and City Hall in the heart of downtown St. Catharines.

For more information on the St. Catharines Farmers Market Discovery Table and Educational Tours, contact Deanna Chakorova, Community and Market Co-ordinator  905-688-5601 Ext. 1563