Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Tarik Zeid has a passion for produce.
The 21-year-old son of Food Fare owner Munther Zeid has channelled his love of all things fruit and veg into a new weekend farmers market outside the family grocery store at Portage Avenue and Mount Royal Road.
"I like the farmers market feel because when I was younger we used to go to St. Norbert a lot and I just remember loving that, so it’s kind of my own twist on that," he says. "You’ll find me there every hour it’s open... it’s my baby."
The market pops up in the parking lot of 2285 Portage Ave. Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features produce from local farms, as well as fruits imported from British Columbia and the United States.
“I believe it’s every parent’s dream and wish for their child to work in the family business with them, but at the same time retail is very tough and there’s a lot of sacrifice required." – Food Fare owner Munther Zeid
The idea for a Food Fare farmers market came from a previous attempt in 1995, soon after the Zeid family purchased the Winnipeg grocery chain. The Maryland location held an outdoor market for one weekend that summer and while the event was a hit, the venture didn’t last.
"I was talking to Tarik about it and then he had started doing some research and pitched me on trying it outside the store and I said, ‘Sure, go ahead,’" Munther says. "We’ve been almost a month now and it’s been a great success."
Munther works with many of his kids, nieces and nephews and he’s happy to see Tarik taking his own initiative within the family business.
"I’m very proud," he says. "I believe it’s every parent’s dream and wish for their child to work in the family business with them, but at the same time retail is very tough and there’s a lot of sacrifice required.
"I’ve pushed him to go to university and once he gets his degree, if he still wants to be in retail that’s fine with me."
Tarik started helping out in the stores in Grade 6 and has graduated from shelf-stocker to "grocery boy" to produce manager over the last decade.
"The main thing for me is serving customers," he says. "Everything is produce for me, so if they’re looking for a Manitoba new potato and you have it and they couldn’t find it anywhere it makes their whole week."
He’s pursuing a bachelor of commerce degree at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business, but the Food Fare vegetable aisle is never far from his mind.
“I’ll be in class looking at all the different produce — it’s what interests me.” – Tarik Zeid
"I’ll be in class looking at all the different produce — it’s what interests me," he says, adding that the market has been a chance to put what he’s learned at school into practice.
"It’s cool, it’s kind of like running my own business within a business, so it’s a really good learning experience."
The St. James market fills a gap for neighbourhoods on the west side of Winnipeg, which would normally be served by the farmers market at the Red River Ex grounds during the summer. Unlike other markets, where farmers are required to attend to their own booths, Food Fare buys produce directly from farms and handles staffing and selling.
"A lot of the farmers we do deal with prefer it that way just because they sell it and they don’t have to worry about a whole day of selling and if people are going to show up," Tarik says. "They’re just dropping it off and it’s faster for them and they can spend their time doing other things."
The market has grown from two to seven local farmers over the last month and Tarik is looking for more Manitoba producers to partner with. The goal is to run the market through the fall for as long as the weather allows and he hopes to do it all again next year.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
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