Renfrew Harvest Market a return to normalcy for many this fall

Despite the dark and dreary skies in Renfrew, Ont. Saturday, spirits were high as the Renfrew Presbyterian Church hosted its first ever Fall Harvest Market.

In fact, the event was the church's first community event since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"The atmosphere here has been one of positive attitudes," says David McFarlane, the church's minister. "It's been happy, joyous; it's been, 'Oh thank goodness we can safely do this, what a wonderful idea being able to connect with one another'."

McFarlane says a number of community events have been cancelled this year due to safety precautions, making Saturday's farmers' market that much more meaningful.

"When COVID hit and took away our fellowship opportunities, it really impacted a lot of people, because a lot of people were depending on the church to have that fellowship time together," McFarlane told CTV News Ottawa.

Saturday's market was full of firsts, not just for the church, but its vendors and attendees. For first time seller Erin Dick, it has been difficult trying to sell her custom knit creations during the pandemic.

"I have found that it is a little difficult because I can't get out into the community, but I have done a little bit of selling online," says the owner of Loopsy Fibre Arts. "But this is great to have, be out and having lots of people come out to see my stuff."

Rooted in a sense of normalcy, Louise Rose came out to shop the harvest market.

"I came earlier where I picked up already two of these, so I came back and bought a third one," said Rose, showing off her new pumpkin decorations. "Earlier I came to get some knitted pumpkins, so that's kind of nice as well. And to see faces right, it's nice to be out and see faces."

All of this possible due to the efforts of those in the community working to keep the fourth wave down, as students head back to school and more parents head back to work.

"We're blessed to hear that the fourth wave isn't hitting as hard as what they had predicted," said McFarlane. "But we understand that we still need to do our due diligence."

No stranger to farmers' markets is apple farmer Stewart Gagan, who says the Ottawa Valley is all about the McIntosh and Spartan apples this season.

"The farmers' markets have actually taken off," said a pleased Gagan. "Whether it's because more people are out and about looking for things to do or if it's because they've just been supporting local, it's hard to say. But we've been doing alright."

With Thanksgiving around the corner, Gagan offered some advice for those looking to put together a pie or crumble for the holiday weekend. 

"Well, any apple at all is good in a pie, but whoever makes it, that's what makes the difference."