Saint John's harbour
On a recent trip to Saint John’s, I had the opportunity to talk with an expat Ontarian who runs an independent bookstore on Signal Hill. He had some surprising insight into the whole local movement in NL.

According to this FA (from away), it’s just not done– yet. Local has not hit our most easterly compatriots.

He lamented that even the progressive people shop at Walmart. And that in Saint John’s, the debate is about where the next Walmart should go, not “do we need it” or “is it a good thing?”

I find the inexistence of a local food movement in NL hard to believe considering the distinctive culture and fiercely independent nature of the people there (tell I’m from Quebec much?). So I’ll ask this, can anyone please tell me this is faulty information? I mean—aside from the farmer’s market at the Lion’s Club on Saturday morning?

In Canada, we have tended to think that things that come from far away are somehow better than what we have at home. But what is interesting and encouraging is that we are finally waking up to the realization that what we have right here is pretty damn good, and might even be better.

Change often starts slowly, at a level we may not even notice. Local wines are being made in NL (two I sampled were Jelly Bean Row and Funky Puffin, both lovely). Iceberg alcohols are being made too. And there’s a local Quidi Vidi brewery. But what about food? Fish? Produce?

Even if the Walmarts win in the short term, the undercurrent can only grow. Like elsewhere, local will take off.

It’s just a question of seeing the worth of what you’ve got. And in my opinion, NL has got a lot.


After looking into things a bit more, the tradition in NL seems to be in garden agriculture, a system where crops in a community or a society are grown in gardens rather than in fields. In NL, this was phased out in the ’50s for being a symbol of a “depressed economy”.

On a happier note, grassroots is taking action at Root Cellars Rock!

Leave a Response