Shoppers mill around stands of vegetables, squeezing tomatoes and weighing squash in their hands at the Bedford Basin Farmers Market on a Wednesday at noon. The space is busier than you’d expect for a workday. Shoppers pop in for their weekly shop and then wander over to the sunny café to grab lunch with a view of the Bedford Basin before zipping back to work.
“We had a vision as sisters, as to how we wanted the market and café to look, what we wanted to offer, the environment,” says Stephanie Giannoulis, who shares the assistant manager title with her sister, Amanda Giannoulis.
Their father Peter Giannoulis owns the operation. Peter is well known locally as the owner of Cosmos Property and Developments, the Canadiana Restaurant, and the Comfort Hotel and Suites.
The market features a butcher’s counter offering local meat, imported products from Greece running the gamut from soaps and lotions to oils and figs, plus local honey and preserves. The range of produce is extensive, easily competing on selection and price with the large local grocery chains.
Alongside this bounty is a café serving up panini sandwiches, soup, and baked treats–all made in-house. Across from the café is a small bakery stand offering up fresh breads, biscuits, and trays of the sweets offered at the café.
The whole of the three-storey, 30,000-square-foot space smells like spices, fruit, and warm bread. Ample windows in the café seating areas on the first and second floors offer broad vistas of boats on the Bedford Basin. It’s the perfect combination to encourage a long lunch and a slow cup of tea.
“My favourite part right now is our patio,” says Amanda. “You’re right next to the water, and when it’s beautiful and sunny you’re in a whole different world. It’s peaceful. Even when the trains go by, I find that a show itself.”
The market opened in March, but the idea start percolating in Peter’s mind much earlier.
He opened the Bayers Lake European Farmers Market on Chain Lake Drive in 2013 to import the oranges he calls “the best in the world” from the Mediterranean.
Soon after the owner of Farmer Clem’s in Bedford contacted him about selling the oranges at his outdoor market on the Bedford Highway. Clem’s owner asked Peter to buy the vegetable stand, and after only nine months in Bayers Lake the market moved to Bedford.
“The winters were tough on the employees who were there, and there arose an opportunity to buy the land next to Farmer Clem’s,” says Stephanie. “He decided why not bring all the fresh produce indoors so it can be year round.”
While winter means no local produce, the sisters plan to import produce and use the extra space to highlight even more organic, imported, and specialty products that would otherwise be unavailable in Bedford.
“I can’t wait for winter time because we have our stone-and-wood motif and fireplaces,” says Stephanie. “It’s going to be a very cozy destination.”