Maddy Wilson knows full well the amount of work that goes into family farming, especially since she grew up on one, but she also has learned through her current job just how important it is to champion local agriculture.
For the past year, Maddy has worked as manager of the Covent Garden Farmers' Market, helping set up for the regular Thursday and Saturday sales while helping connect those who make food and local crafts with those eager to purchase them.
“It’s so important to ensure there is agriculture, fresh food, a continuance of sustainable agriculture and a farmer’s market is a really good connection place for consumers,” she said. “Without a farmer’s market, you’re shopping at a grocery store and you’re missing that link. You aren’t meeting the farmer. It reminds me why we provide this space for farmers . . . because they’re making connections with the consumers and the consumers are making connections with them.”
The current Covent Garden Market — 130 King St. — was opened in 1999 and the Covent Garden Farmer’s Market returned about a year later.
At the peak of the season, the farmer’s market features about 37 vendors with around 65 percent of them being farmers.
Zoning regulations ensure Maddy maintain an “over-half ratio” of farmers while the rest are producers, whether they’re cheese-makers, bakers or artisans.
Whatever their product might be, Maddy is adamant the farmer’s market doesn’t allow re-selling.
“Everything that is sold is grown by the person, is made by the person, is baked by the person, is raised by the person, so you’re getting that full circle,” she said. “If you are buying something that is resold, you aren’t meeting the person who grew it. If you’re buying an apple from the grocery store, as opposed to the farmer, you aren’t meeting that person, aren’t familiar with their growing practices. If it’s important for you to support agriculture in Middlesex-London, which we are a part of, there is no guarantee that if it is resold that it’s from the area. So, what we do ensures you’re supporting local.”
Maddy’s farming background is extensive, but so too is her experience at Covent Garden Market.
Her dad had been a long-time vendor at the farmer’s market — for 21 years, before he retired this year — and she grew up selling for his stand.
She also worked at the market’s popular Hasbeans coffee throughout university, so she’s quick to admit she’s been working at Covent Garden Market — off and on — since she was 16 years old.
Working Wednesday through Saturday, Maddy’s job sees her helping set up for the weekly pair of markets. The Thursday market, she explains, tends to be smaller than the Saturday version with about 15 vendors, most of whom are farmers.
But the part of her job she loves the most, is visiting with farmers and artisans, verifying the crops they produce and products they make.
“I do farm visits, keep a list of what they’re growing, it’s a really nice part of my job,” she said. “I grew up on a farm, I know how things grow, I know how it works, so I love seeing different people’s methods, the way they do things differently, how they do things similarly, all working to a common goal.”