St. Albert wins provincial tourism award

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The St. Albert Farmers’ Market and the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce teamed up to win a provincial tourism award.

Travel Alberta presented the award Tuesday for St. Albert’s efforts in sustainable tourism.

Agatha Grochowski, manager of the market, says winning the Outstanding Sustainable Tourism award was because of team efforts with staff at the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce.

Grochowski says the chamber had to submit an essay outlining the different initiatives when they applied for the award. It included work with the food bank and promoting inclusive workplaces.

“The president and CEO, Jennifer (McCurdy), has really been working with me on this,” she says. “It’s been amazing to work together, we’ve been coming up with all these initiatives and trying to make ways to make the market thrive.”

The Travel Alberta award is given when “management of resources focuses on maintaining environmental sustainability, and social and cultural integrity while contributing to the overall well-being of the local community.”

Since 2015 the market has been implementing new initiatives to make the largest outdoor farmers’ market in western Canada more sustainable.

Grochowski, who has been involved with the market since 2014, said her passion for sustainability stems from volunteering in Haiti for three months in 2015 where there was not a lot of food. When she arrived back in Canada, she says she was overwhelmed with the amount of food wasted each day. She decided to bring that awareness to the farmers’ market.

Two years ago the market started collecting food for the St. Albert Food Bank, where vendors could donate product at the end of the market day. In 2016 the market collected 2,500 pounds of fresh food. This past summer it collected over 5,000 pounds.

The market is also focused on promoting multiculturalism. This is the first year it has partnered with Make it, Bake it, Grow it, which is an organization that teaches refugees and immigrants how to start their own business.

Each Saturday the market provided free booths for immigrants to set up their businesses. The market also invested in inclusive employment by partnering with Gateway Association. Throughout the summer people with disabilities worked at the concession stands.

The market has also focused on promoting sustainable environments at home. This year it celebrated “Honey Day” featuring different bee farms in the area.

Jennifer McCurdy, president and CEO of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, says she was thrilled to hear that they had won.

“We’ve been the largest outdoor market in western Canada for many years and about two years ago we made a commitment to become one of the best,” she says.

“When we were honoured last night it was recognizing that the journey we’re on now is the right pursuit that we have. It just confirmed that what we’re doing is good.”

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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.