Despite the drab, grey day unfolding all around them, a number of local farmers and bakers displaying wares for sale at a new farmer's market being run every Thursday afternoon at Beaconsfield train station were all smiles as they got ready for another busy afternoon at the market, which opens up every week at 3:30 at the station, which plays host to hundreds of commuters every day.
The market is the brainchild of Kirkland resident Daniel La Tour, who sought out a lease agreement with the Agence Metropolitain de Transport (AMT), allowing access to the washrooms and power sources located inside the station, which normally opens its doors to commuters starting Dec. 1.
"(The idea) goes back a few years," said La Tour. "It's something we've wanted to do for a long time," he said.
It won't just be a fall harvest market, either. La Tour hopes to move the market indoors in December, with sales of coffee and hot chocolate supplementing the sales of produce, pies and baked goods.
"It looks like we will have an agreement. As it gets colder, more and more people will want to hang around inside and (purchase goods)," La Tour said. "We are looking at having artisans in there with holiday gifts for sale, but, it's all good things – good healthy food. We have talked about having a tent outside to increase visibility, but right now, it's all about getting the word out," he said.
The weekly market boasts fresh produce, baked treats and even Christmas fruitcake sales on behalf of the Lakeshore Civitan Club.
La Ferme Bord du Lac owner Benoit Girard put out a wide variety of fresh produce from his Ile Bizard farm, including just-picked Brussels sprouts, Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, bok choi, arugula, cauliflower and Chinese radishes, while next to him, Pierrefonds-based Suzys Bakery owner Susanne Riegel laid out her wares – a series of all-natural, great-smelling cakes, rolls, breads and European-style soft pretzels, which got the attention of the numerous train-riding high-school students waiting to be picked up at the station.
Girard said while sales have been slow since the market launched in the beginning of October, working the market "is an investment in the future," he said. "(The clientele that uses the station) is a clientele we want to develop. It's going to take more than a few weeks, but Beaconsfield is a good community for this," he said.
Girard hopes commuters become so enamoured with the produce and baked goods for sale they take time out from their busy commute to stop at the tables and check things out.
"People coming back on the train aren't always interested in stopping, but we'll keep working o getting this market going," he said.
Riegel said she is optimistic about the future of the small market, saying she "sold out," of her goodies in her first week at the market and returned with more treats for sale her second time around – and agreed that many West Islanders are becoming more conscious of the food they eat.
"I have to say that more and more people are going back to basics," she said. "They look at the salt. They look at the sugar. They're more concerned with gluten and lactose intolerance," she said, adding the market is a hidden gem in the West Island.
"People need to get to know it better. I think they'll keep coming back if they do," she said.
The Beaconsfield Train Station farmer's market is held weekly on Thursday afternoons from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the train station, located at 104 Elm Ave.