Rock Garden Farms hosts Pumpkin Kisses and Harvest Wishes Market in support of local businesses

October 7, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In early July, Rock Garden Farms on Airport Road in Caledon East played host to the Tropical Oasis Market. The market was a collaborative effort between two different GTA markets that focus on promoting shopping local and supporting vendors from Halton through Peel across to York and down to Toronto.

The first market was such a success that the Prestige Market—run by Melissa Spina—and the Mini Regal Market—run by Ursula Romeo— teamed up again for a return to Rock Garden Farms this past weekend to host the Pumpkin Kisses and Harvest Wishes Market.

Given the circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic in July, the duo of Spina and Romeo weren’t able to run the market exactly how they would have wanted to, but the second time around afforded them more leeway with restrictions loosening up since the early summer.

Once again, they had a live DJ spinning tunes for those in attendance, but they were able to add even more to compliment the more than 55 local small businesses at the market. There was everything from a bounce castle for kids to food trucks, fitness and art classes, a candy station, sage making classes (for smudging), mediation stations, a nail and spa area, a book swap, and daily raffles.

“There’s double the vendors this time and it was much easier this second time around considering we’re an outdoor event,” Spina said. “With everything going on right now for indoor events that’s a lot tougher, but for this time outdoor capacity levels are different, and regulations are different. Everything has been a lot more calm. We still have all the precautions we need in place, and we’ve got everything spaced out.

“In terms of even people just wanting to come out, it’s been a lot more comfortable, both for the communities and vendors as well, with the way things were last time it was a lot more reserved. Now everyone is a little more comfortable and just want to be back out together in the community again and celebrating good times and making memories. We’re so grateful.”

Despite some rain on the first day, the market has been a huge hit with Rock Garden’s parking lots jam-packed with cars and people from across the community enjoying all the different vendors, food, and free activities.

“The first day we didn’t have completely favourable weather, so we moved around a bit, but today (Sunday) the sun is shining, and everything is perfect,” she said. “We’re back out here on this amazing field and everyone wants to be out here taking in the amazing fall weather. We’re so happy about this. Having the food trucks has been awesome, everyone has loved them,” Spina said. “There’s been raves about the food and the music and all of the variety of vendors. The feedback has been so strong, we couldn’t ask for anything more. The experience has been a huge part of getting people out because who doesn’t want to just get out in the fall and have a nice day out with the family. It’s literally been amazing.”

The biggest reason Spina and Romeo were able to hold their summer market and return again this fall was because of the generosity of Margaret Galati, head of operations at Rock Garden Farms, and her family; the second market has also allowed them to have a marge more widespread reach.

“It’s been amazing here (at Rock Garden Farms),” Spina said. “The community up here in Peel and Caledon specifically is so tight knit. When Margaret and her family were promoting the second market, everybody came together and was so excited about it and Ursula and I have obviously been promoting it like crazy on social media. We actually went out to our Vaughan community and were handing out flyers and we had a huge turnout Saturday from Vaughan and Richmond Hill. We’re just trying to unite all the communities and grown that community as a grander community—not just sub-communities, but a whole community whether you’re in Peel, York Region, or Vaughan. We’ve definitely reached a bigger mass with this one. The last market was Caledon residents, Brampton and Mississauga, but not as many from Vaughan or across the GTA. This one, we’ve had so many people from all over—Maple, Woodbrige, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Toronto, Oakville. We’re reaching people from all over and it’s amazing.”

Not only have they reached far more people with this second market, but Spina and Romeo were able to do so much more with it and connect more businesses to “really blow it out,” as Spina puts it, the way they’ve always wanted to.

“This one we could on a grander scale and both Ursula and I love to do things on a grand scale,” Spina said. “The last one was very scaled back, we couldn’t have a bounce castle, we had to have far less vendors, and we had tougher capacity limits. The minute that got lifted and we were able to throw something back to the way we love to do it for the community, we went all out. We have all the balloons out, the bounce castle, multiple kids’ activities, the Disney princesses are out, Party Kids is coming, we have a live paint afternoon, and even more. We were just able to do it the way we always envisioned it and the way we wanted for the community.”

The biggest thing with the fall market for Spina and Romeo was to make sure the community could get the most out of the event without having it cost them much.

“We’re trying to make it as cost affordable for the people coming in as possible,” Spina said. “For every guest it’s free and you can come in and enjoy all the amenities, we have a free candy table for people to enjoy because we want to give people the opportunity to come out and do something and have it not cost a fortune. Everybody has taken a hit these last two years so whatever we can do to bring the community together and be as cost affordable as possible, that’s what we wanted to do. Especially for this one, we knew with everything opening back up that this one had to be on point and have as many free things as we could possibly offer. We had free wreath making for Thanksgiving, free sage making classes, free acupuncture facials and massage therapy at one of our booths, then all the activities for kids and adults are all free.”

Having run two successful markets at Rock Garden Farms now, both Spina and Romeo are in agreement that they would love to make this an annual tradition because of their relationship with Galati and her family and the overwhelming community support they’ve received.

“We love it here, we love working with Margaret and her family,” she said. “They’ve been amazing to us, and we look at them like family now. Margaret has been so accommodating and they’ve been such a help, even planning it. It helps when everyone is on the same page with a common goal. Obviously, we want to be back as many times as they’ll have—every summer hopefully.”

For more information on upcoming markets run by Spina and Romeo, follow and @miniregalmarket on Instagram.

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