Shelley Bradshaw and Austin Lind, with Innisfail Growers, help a customer at The Market at Red Deer. Bradshaw, along with other investors, wants to build an indoor farmers market in Gasoline Alley that would boast a microbrewery, a kitchen and seating area. (Advocate file art)

Indoor farmers market coming to Gasoline Alley

Indoor market to be housed in new building that could be open by Thanksgiving

A new indoor farmers market is expected to take root in Gasoline Alley this fall.

Beck Farms and a group of local investors have joined forces to build a home for an indoor farmers market with space for 50 vendors on a vacant site on Laura Avenue, just south of Trail Appliances.

Beck Farms’ owner Shelley Bradshaw said they hope to have a microbrewery, play zone and kitchen and seating area. Construction is expected to start soon, and if all goes to schedule, it could be open by Thanksgiving.

“We want it to be an experience and a destination for our customers, not just a place to come and grab your vegetables or whatever,” said Bradshaw.

Beck Farms, which is one of five farms behind Innisfail Growers, has been growing carrots and selling them at farmers markets for more than 30 years.

“We believe there’s been a real need for a year-round market in Red Deer,” she said.

While the prospect of starting a year-round market has come up regularly for years, nothing materialized.

That led the Bradshaws to open their own small Saturday morning market in Eastview’s community centre, which has now been running for a number of years and is mostly promoted by word of mouth.

That experience and the feedback they got convinced them central Alberta was due for a larger-scale market.

“Customers are very happy with it, and we felt it just needed to be expanded,” she said. “I know there’s just a need for a larger venue and more vendors.

“After looking at locations, we thought Gasoline Alley was an excellent place for it. It seems to be a very busy area, easy to get to, and central to this whole central Alberta community.”

Beck Farms has been a regular vendor at Calgary’s indoor farmers market off Blackfoot Trail in the southeast part of the city. That popular venue has been operating for 15 years, and proven so successful, a second indoor market is expected to open next year in the Greenwich neighbourhood.

Bradshaw said their outlet is modelled on Calgary’s market, although scaled down by about half in recognition of our smaller population base.

“We’re kind of using our experience there to build this new one. We’re taking some ideas from that.”

They expect to operate on Saturdays and Sundays to start.

Their indoor market idea has already found a big fan in Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood.

“We are very excited to have this facility coming to Gasoline Alley,” said Wood in a statement. “It will be a tremendous opportunity for local producers and artists to gain access to new customers and showcase the wonderful products we have right here in our own backyard.”

The county’s economic development department has organized an open house to spread the word about the farmers market to local producers and artisans.

The event takes place at the Hamlets at Red Deer complex at 338 Liberty Ave. at 2 p.m. on Feb. 22.

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