PASSION & HISTOIRE BLOG – Not far south of Saint-Boniface… Discover the markets in Saint-Norbert

Kenza Zaoui - Translated by Daneige Edey

This week, I made my way south of Saint-Boniface, to the lovely neighbourhood of Saint-Norbert, to run my errands. A true institution, the Saint-Norbert Farmers’ Market is located just off of Pembina Highway. I went twice actually, once for the true Saint-Norbert Farmers’ Market, and the second time for the Third + Bird Market. 

Depending on which market day you choose, you might not find the exact same products, but they all have two things in common : they are locally made, and sold by passionate makers.

Wednesday and Saturday, Classic Market Days

Every Saturday throughout the year (8 am – 2 pm) and every Wednesday during the summer (3 pm – 7 pm), the Saint-Norbert Farmers’ Market comes alive and the stalls are filled with fresh local products, outside and inside the canopy!

Marilyn Firth, Executive Director of the Market, believes in the importance of providing an opportunity to fill your fridge and pantry with fresh products while knowing their origin, and whose sales proceeds go directly to the merchants. The Market has enabled makers to sell their products at the best price, avoiding intermediate distribution channels for more than thirty years.

I can guarantee that being able to speak directly with the farmer or the maker will change how you experience the consumption of their products altogether. 

So what can you find at the Market? Handmade products, jewelry, drinks, fresh baking and pastries, jams, fruits and vegetables, meats (like chicken and even bison!), and there is even a fish merchant once a month. The majority of the products are consumable because the Saint-Norbert Market specifically defines itself as a farmers’ market.

Pictured : From mead, to granola, to finishing butter, to the poultry vendor’s stand!

The one product that we can’t find at the Market but that they would love to offer, is cheese, due to food safety and sanitary regulations.

If you go to the Market on a Saturday, plan for a full day out! Take all the time you need to explore the market’s 130 vendors. Then, enjoy lunch from one of the food and beverage vendors’ booths, or grab something from the food trucks before heading to a picnic table. While you’re there, why not take in a guided walking tour of Saint-Norbert from Tourisme Riel

If your time is limited or the weather is rainy, there is always the possibility of ordering online from 68 different merchants, and having the products delivered directly to your vehicle on Saturday morning.

Entry into the Saint-Norbert Farmers’ Market is free. To stay up to date on which vendors will be present, check out their website or their social media accounts! (Facebook or Instagram)

Thursday, Third + Bird Market

Every Thursday until August 19, from 2 pm to 8 pm, the Saint-Norbert Farmers’ Market grounds will be hosting the Third + Bird Market. 

On the menu : Manitoba-made handicrafts and goodies. Three quarters of the vendors are on rotation, so every visit will bring you a different array of products! At this market you can find clothing, jewelry, body care, household items, gifts for your pets, handmade decorations and, of course, delectable treats to eat (coffee, tea, alcohol, and even cake)! You can check out their “Maker lineup” on the website to map out your visit.

This is Third + Bird’s 13-year anniversary, and their second summer popping up on the Saint-Norbert Market grounds. Chandra, the founder and chief commercial officer of the urban market, knows her vendors and their products inside out. As a creator herself, she decided to launch this market when she wasn’t able to find a niche space to sell her creations. Before the regular use of social media, word of mouth allowed Third + Bird to grow exponentially. Now, in 2021, they host their largest market in December, while offering smaller, local markets throughout the rest of the year. 

The objective of this market is of course to support small local producers and artisans, who need us. Despite the latest shift towards online activities and sales, some shopping experiences require a little facetime (no pun intended); for example, buying plants, or a custom-made belt, which are two available options at Third + Bird!

Between 45 and 50 vendors are present each week and I guarantee you won’t leave empty-handed. Everyone is so passionate about what they create, and they’ll gladly talk to you about it at length. Every purchase is truly a personalized experience.

There are also 5 food trucks on site! Entrance to the market costs $5 plus tax at the door, but it will be the best $5 (and more) you’ll ever spend.