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Aug 8, 2010 08:15 AM

New Seaport Farmer's Market in Halifax

Did anybody check out the new Farmer's Market this weekend?
I'm new to town so I found it absolutely amazing and will look forward to going there regularly. I had only been to the old market once and while it was charming, I felt like I was going to miss some little corner of the market that had the most amazing food.

After-market lunches are always exciting - yesterday it was spicy lamb sausages, za'ttar bread and pan-roasted kale, peas and yellow beans.

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  1. Yes, we went, and to be honest, we were a bit disappointed. Despite the extra moving room, it seemed to have all the smae problems of the Brewery Market — particularly people congregating in paths impeding traffic flow while they have 5-minute conversations. I did like that all the food was grouped together and the handcrafts were on the upper level, and I'm hopeful that the crowds will thin out in a couple of weeks, when the novelty is worn off.

    Also, I'm a little surprised that after two years of construction, the building still isn't finished(??!).

    1 Reply
    1. re: tempest in a teapot

      Yeah, the traffic flow was still a bit problematic. People need to figure out if it's going to be a clock-wise or counter-clockwise traffic flow, I think!
      Maybe when it's open during the week in fall it may be easier to actually shop there.

      1. We loved the architecture and 'feel' of the place and got smart in Week Two...if you get there at 7am, there is plenty of churn space.

        However, I remain confused by the strategic thinking that put the two biggest and most popular breakfast-food snack sellers side-by-side right at the front door...this causes a major traffic jam at exactly the wrong spot . Surely it also makes no sense: wouldn't you hunt these guys down at a corner in the back? Having tasted those crepes, I would!

        5 Replies
        1. re: LJS

          I have been waiting for this new market to open since moving here two years ago. I went to the old market several times but could not stand the insane crowds, horrible traffic flow, and what I call the Zombie Cow Culture - those standing around with parts of their brain shut off, normally clustered around the access ways holding onto their coffee and being inconsiderate to those who want to move through the rabbit warren atmosphere. Move people, others want to do their shopping and not get stuck behind you while you socialize in the middle of the traffic flow.! Sorry, I just needed to vent about that!
          Having learned to filter out the fear of change chatter in this city from the 'Old Guard', hubby and I made our way to the Seaport Market this past Saturday, filled with positive anticipation. We did arrive a tad late for the market culture - around 10:00ish and we were blown away by how filled the various parking lots were. In fact, I asked a parking attendant if all the traffic was for the new market or if another event was happening in the area, 'no, all for the market' he said. Wow, this shows Halifax is ready for and embracing change, a wonderful thing in this city!

          We liked the cosmopolitan feel of the place, the huge windows offering a fabulous view and all that wonderful natural sunlight (did you old market cave dwellers not notice this!), and we love the promise of a great shopping experience, once the current kinks are worked out.

          I agree with others commenting on the questionable layout of vendors and poor traffic flow right now. I am holding back judgement as this new market is not completed yet and all the space is not utilized. However, this is the time for the planners to make some much needed changes. I am very hopeful the poor traffic flow, problem layout, and lineup prone mob mentality will work itself out once the market is open beyond the current one day a week. I am picturing a calmer and more pleasant atmosphere, compared to the current frenzy, where shoppers will have the ability to actually walk up to the vendors, see what they are selling and take a moment to chat with them instead being pushed along.

          Having lived in Montreal for many years where I frequently shopped at the Atwater Market and the Jean Talon Market (both open seven days a week), the layouts of both these places allow you to walk up to the vendors, (there are no long line ups though both locations are always insanely busy), take your time looking at and choosing the produce, and offered a positive shopping experience.
          I think the layout of the Seaport Market needs to be addressed, or, dare I say, is this new market space already to small! Like myself, how many people did not shop at the old market because of it's crowded issues, and are now showing at up the Seaport Market.

          Another important fact, which I hope is being considered for the new market, will be it's future hours of operation. In order to establish itself as a vital part of living in Halifax, the market should be open and available to those working and living close enough to shop after the work day is completed.

          I raise this issue because of my experience living in Ottawa for 12 years. Most of the shops in Ottawa's Byward Market (mainly a tourist trap) close between 5 pm and 6 pm disallowing those working downtown to shop after working hours, or only having access to a very limited number of vendors. Otherwise, if you wanted to shop in the Byward Market, you are forced to do so on weekends where you are faced with next to no parking (another positive of the Seaport Marketing - endless parking!).

          Let's give the Seaport Market time to find it's own personality as it is yet to be completed and currently only open one day a week instead of it's proposed six days a week.

          Now, if someone would only open a small farmer's market in the Fairview neighbourhood please!

          1. re: HFXFoodie

            'Zombie Cow Culture' brought a huge grin to my face. You hit the nail right on the head with that one. Throw a monster stroller or two into that mix and you've got yourself one helluva traffic jam.

            1. re: im_nomad

              You have now completed the picture! Hope the Zombies do not bring along their dead head behaviour to the new market. Can't wait for the market to open beyond Saturday as well.

              1. re: HFXFoodie

                Sadly "Zombie Cow Culture" is still in full swing at the new market particularly after 8:30am or so. It inspires a specific condition that I call "market rage". This is also caused by the crowds of cruise ship tourists that clump together in the most inconvenient places. Needless to say I try to shop early and get out as fast as possible so I don't have to stomp my feet. :p

                I do like the seaport market but I feel like it still has some of the problems of the old market. The aisles are too narrow to walk through while people are browsing the tables at either side. Hopefully this will be resolved once the building is totally finished (I've seen minimal progress in the past's a bit ridiculous). I miss some vendors from the old market but most of my favourites have changed locations. Oveall I think the change was for the better but I do hope they resolve the table spacing issue.

                1. re: petra_reuter

                  Hey, I can relate to 'market rage' as I have experienced this as well. I totally agree with you - the new market has some of the same problems as the old location, and the current layout is one of the huge issues. I'm saying current as I am trying to be positive hoping the powers that be are receiving feedback from the market shoppers (maybe they read Atlantic Chowhound!!!) about very complaint. The layout is very fixable and the market goers should have seen some sort of modification by now. As well, I would like to see the vendors displaying their products/produce/ wares in a more visible manner - go vertical people - place vendor signs well above the actual booth location so people can see their location. It is so crowded in the market you can't find anything then end up in line, shuffling around and being sucked up into the Zombie lineup force field when there is no need!
                  It would be great if the Seaport Market website actually discussed what we can expect in months to come and allow for shopper feedback. As it is, the website is a dead end. I would love to know when the market will be open beyond Saturday's....anyone have a solid lead on this?

        2. It is very bizarre that so much planning went into the design of this new market and yet the one feature that sparked the need for a new market wasn't addressed. i.e. traffic flow and space. The old problem of the architect losing sight of the primary objective.

          My fear is that the new market is almost maxed out for new vendors including vendors still holding out at the old brewery site.

          6 Replies
          1. re: chilibeanpaste

            I completely agree with your comment regarding the traffic flow issue and space problem seems to be ignored in the new market. Why is this issue not dealt with, can the planners/designers not see this problem when so many of the market goers do? Are they hoping these problems will sort it self out once the market is open beyond the current Saturday only schedule. I hear the market will be open Friday's (International food market day) Saturday and Sunday starting November 5th weekend.
            It is fabulous to see the new market is in such high demand, but planners/designers please address these issues. Everyone with complaints about the new market should state so on the Seaport Market Facebook account.

            1. re: HFXFoodie

              Nice that it's going to be finished now that the high season is over for the year. I am very unimpressed with the traffic flow problems. What was the point of moving if they did not resolve one of the biggest issues!

              1. re: petra_reuter

                Latest is that Hutten Farms is moving back to the old market. They had both locations, but it proved too much trouble.

                I also heard that Ted had some words with the architect of the Seaport Market, complaining of the single loading bay located at some distance from the stalls. He asked the architect how many boxes of produce did he think he had to move through that crowd on a Saturday. The architect answered, ...about 80? Ted answered, try several hundred!

                How could they get this so wrong? What happened to consultation with the farmers?

                1. re: juanitayesteban

                  You have to wonder how so many poor planning and design issues continue with the new market. Have you checked their Facebook site, seems to be the place to launch questions or concerns. Wonder if 'they' look on this site. It is arrogance, ignorance, both, neither?!? If 'they' do not address so many of these issues in the near future, the new market will be scarred and what a shame that would be. The traffic low - or lack of - is still a problem, why is that.

                  1. re: HFXFoodie

                    I have to say that since the new stores opened on the exterior street side the traffic flow is much better. There are now some wonderful new ethnic booths. However I still think there is virtually no room for expansion even with the new stores. The area designated for those vendor who cook on site is full, full, full. The promise of Indonesian food may never be realized as they cannot cook anywhere else. And what will happen to the vendors stuck at the old market - they are probably out in the cold now and the parking nearby will soon be zero with construction in the area.

                    All the vendors at Seaport are complaining of the problems of unloading their wares and that their cars & trucks are not being given enough time for parking.

                    1. re: chilibeanpaste

                      Latest word on the Seaport Market. Last friday a friend was speaking to the lady who wanted to introduce Indonesian food. Apparently arrangements have been made for cooking on site (I presume on the outer wall area) and we should see Indonesian at long last in Halifax. Nasi goreng is on the menu!

          2. I went for the first time on a Saturday a few weeks ago just after 7:00 am. The parking situation was annoying, and difficult to figure out in the dark. A number of the merchants were just strolling in and still weren't set up when I left 30 minutes later, perhaps they were delayed because of the problems unloading? Thankfully, it was not yet crowded so I didn't get to see for myself how the traffic flows. This weekend, I went on Sunday at 8:30. Perhaps 1/4 of the merchants were open. I've never been clear on whether the intention is to have all, or most, vendors open on Sunday too? Certainly you would think most would be there 2 weeks before Christmas. I couldn't find anything on the website to say who was open on Sundays, and the merchants I went specifically to see weren't open.

            I'm in no hurry to go back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: quof

              Well, I was in the market on Sunday, and it finally hit me what the interior reminds me of - the final hours of a rummage and bake sale in a church basement. That look of temporary placement - the vendors set up with folding tables (OK a few vendors with permanent arrangements), not alot on the tables, you feel like you just missed the best choices available - not the most inviting atmosphere one wants to return to. Hubby and I wanted to support the Sunday market - help spread out the attendance from the heavy Saturday traffic. Not really sure if I want to return to the market as well, definitely not in any hurry to do so. It is a disappointment unfortunately.
              Can anyone tell me if the permanent set up will be the temporary table arrangement? It looks so shabby (or is the intention to keep the look homey/folksy perhaps?), surely this is not how the market intends to establish itself! I have not been to the St. John, NB market but looking through it's photo gallery, it appears the vendors have permanent, inviting and attractive booths/stalls. Being a week before Christmas, I was looking for someone selling Christmas greenery - not so much - in fact nothing! Is this market a failure? Did it open prematurely? There is no room for expansion or are there areas still not completed or open for additional vendors? What is going on with this market?