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New farmers market aims to support local youth (3 photos)

Hope Blooms' farmers market opens Thursday and will be located on Brunswick Street

Halifax is getting a brand new farmers market with a business goal of giving back.

The market -- set to open on Thursday, June 23 in the park at 2346 Brunswick St. -- is owned by Hope Blooms, a community hub that centres around helping young Haligonians through social entrepreneurship.

One of the goals is to give youth involved in the organization a chance to learn some entrepreneurial skills, said Veronica Gutierrez, manager of growth and sustainability at Hope Blooms.

“The idea is to empower kids. We want them to know their dreams are possible, and that brilliance does not have a postal code,” said Gutierrez.

The new market is located in between the greenhouse and gardens, which are also owned by Hope Blooms.

““This year we grew our gardens to 10,000 square feet which are run by youths involved with the organization,” Gutierrez said.

The goal is to use the produce grown in the gardens to supply the farmers market, as well as offer produce from more than five other local vendors, she said.

“There are few areas in the neighbourhood offering healthy affordable food, and we wanted to give back by subsidizing part of it to make it more affordable.”

The greenhouse was built in 2018 after several youths from Hope Blooms received a $40,000 investment on the television show, Dragon’s Den, for a salad dressing business they started.

“The salad dressing kept selling out in the farmers market. The kids decided to go to Dragon’s Den, and when the pitch was accepted, the kids were sent to Toronto where they raised $10,000 in a weekend from the community,” she said.

It grew from there, with youths starting multiple small businesses through the organization.

“We started Hope Blooms with like about six kids to 25 kids. Now we have about 375 youth and five different product businesses” said Gutierrez.

All of the money raised from the produce sold goes towards a scholarship fund for those involved.

“Every youth gets $4,000 for every year they are in (post-secondary) school,” said Gutierrez.

“All of our youths are between 8 years old and 15 years old. The condition is, once they’ve graduated high school they must come back to work with the new youths for at least an hour a week.”

Having the opportunity to offer a business designed around supporting young people’s future is an honour, Gutierrez said.

“It feels like a big family. The sense of community you get being with a team like this, it’s beautiful,

“Most of them are the first ones to graduate college in their family. To have this support in their life is very very nice.”

The market opens Thursday and will open every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. until August 11. Patrons can expect vegetables from local farmers, Jamaican patties, natural body products, organic sweets and more. Live music will also be performed.

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