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Halifax Farmers’ Market aims to be sustainable


December 2, 2009
By The Canadian Press

Topics

November
30, 2009, Halifax, NS – The scent of Bavarian sausages mixes with that of pine
boughs and freshly pressed cider as people snake through the year-round Halifax
Farmers’ Market one typical Saturday morning.



November
30, 2009, Halifax, NS – The scent of Bavarian sausages mixes with that of pine
boughs and freshly pressed cider as people snake through the year-round Halifax
Farmers’ Market
one typical Saturday morning.

Customers
wait in lines or steer their way around bottlenecks that have become an
endearing – to some, annoying – trademark of the venerable old haunt. The low
din of casual greetings and the invariable “I’m sorry” and “Excuse me” fill the
brick-walled rooms as shoppers negotiate their way down the lanes.

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But
the lineups that clog the warren of alcoves and nooks are likely to become a
thing of the past when the market leaves its home next year and settles into an
ecologically state-of-the-art facility on Halifax’s waterfront.

J
Carruth, who has gone to the market every Saturday for the last dozen years, is
excited about the new building but will miss the old one.

“I
understand why they’re doing it, but there’s something about this old warren
and bumping into everyone,” he said, holding a basket full of carrots and
cheese.

“I’m
going to miss the character.”

“Everyone
has a sense of the market – the stone arches, the old charm and none of that
will be there,” said Fred Kilcup, manager of the market.

With
the charm, however, goes overcrowding and inefficient use of energy.

“The
new building is getting attention worldwide . . . it’s certainly at the
forefront of construction issues.”

The
new Seaport Market is being built near the Pier 21 historic site. It plans to
open next summer, after a series of delays while organizers arranged financing.

The
building – a massive 4,050 square metres, almost double the current space – is
designed to provide most of its own energy through wind, solar and geothermal.

Keith
Tufts, the project’s Halifax-based designer, said four turbines on the
structure’s “green” roof will harness the wind that blows in through the mouth
of the harbour to generate the bulk of the building’s electricity. Solar
thermal and geothermal energy will heat hot water and the building.

“All
those things are creating 75 per cent less energy use and 75 per cent less CO2
emissions than a model national energy code,” Tufts said.

“It’s
going to end up being one of the most sustainable buildings in North America.”

Rainwater
will be collected on the roof to irrigate gardens, wash the floors and flush
the building’s toilets. The green roof, covered in drought-tolerant plants,
will shed heat in the summer, eliminating the need for air conditioning, Tufts
said.

Four
solar lanterns or light towers on the front of the building will bring in light
and heat year-round.

Most
of the materials are recycled and locally sourced, with anything imported being
delivered by rail. Much of the wood is Eastern White Cedar from New Brunswick
and every touchable piece of wood, such as handrails and steps, is reclaimed
from trees that were felled during hurricane Juan.

“The
building is as sustainable as it can be,” Tufts said.

The
building's base construction cost is pegged at $11.5 million, with all three
levels of government kicking in.

It’s
a far cry from the hodgepodge of stalls that make up the current market. It has
had many locations over the years but has been around in one form or another
since 1750 and bills itself as the oldest farmers' market in North America.

Once
based in the city’s old police headquarters, it was cut adrift decades ago when
developers put up a mall downtown. After moving every few years, it finally
settled in the old Keith’s Brewery building on the waterfront.

There
were fewer than 100 vendors then, with only a handful staying on through the
year to make sure the market kept running. Each year, it attracted new farmers
and artisans selling everything from organic herbs and apples to homemade
Madras curries, hand-knit socks and chocolate-filled crepes.

Some
of the 200 vendors who now call the market home confess they’re a little
apprehensive about the shift, as well as the planned expansion to three market
days a week from the current one.

Greg
Gerrits has been selling mostly pesticide-free carrots, beets, potatoes and
corn since 1993 when he first loaded up his pickup truck and headed for the
city from his valley farm.

He
made about $500 a week back then but says he now brings in “many times more
than that” and does about 1/5 of his sales at the market, where his young
children help sell his cherry tomatoes, beans, leeks and other vegetables.

“It’s
the centre to holding our business together,” he said from his farm in Centreville,
N.S.

“But
it’s a move we have to make. The building’s got character, but serious
constraints. It’s a hard old building to work with.”


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