Le Sommet Foundation President Fabio Doralice (left) with Le Sommet board and team members and other supporters of the new crafts and farmers’ market.
PHILIPSBURG--Le Sommet Foundation plans to launch a new crafts and farmers’ market at the WIFOL Building in Philipsburg on May 6. The new marketplace will offer fresh, healthy and locally grown produce to the people of St. Maarten.
The farmers’ market is set up as a pilot programme that will run every other Saturday for a probationary period of three months to gauge community feedback.
“With the launch of this farmers’ market, the community will benefit from increased access to fresh, locally-grown produce, while strengthening the community,” said Le Sommet Foundation President Fabio Doralice. “The market will provide an opportunity for farmers and crafters to sell their products directly to consumers, promoting local economic growth and reducing our dependence on imported produce.”
Doralice believes in the immense health, social and economic benefits that come with supporting agriculture and its further development in the community. He sees the launch of the farmers’ market not only as an important catalyst for promoting and supporting local farmers, but also as a way to help offset the high cost of living associated with buying groceries in St. Maarten. In addition to bringing down the cost of food, the farmer’s market also has health benefits.
“Eating healthy and organic is extremely expensive, but with locally-sourced produce, we can eliminate shipping costs, packaging costs, overhead costs, and all other factors that play a role in the final price we pay in the supermarket,” Doralice said. “This means that people can have access to fresh, healthy, and locally-grown produce at more affordable prices, promoting better health and well-being in our community and saving a dollar or two in the process.”
At the heart of this initiative, the ultimate beneficiaries should be the community and its people, Doralice said. “By investing in local agriculture, it will ensure that the benefits of initiatives like these are sustainable and we are actively contributing towards building a stronger, more resilient community for years to come."
Doralice further believes that the farmer’s market will have a significant impact on promoting food security and reducing S. Maarten’s carbon footprint.
“It can even create new job opportunities or side hustles for home and backyard farmers, helping to supplement their income and stimulate economic growth in the community. The additional income could also be viewed as a way to help alleviate and slightly shift individuals above the threshold of poverty by putting additional monies in people’s pockets and reducing their food costs, which will reduce their overall household expenses,” he said.
Doralice acknowledged that this initiative is not a cure for all the issues faced with the economy, poverty, food and food security. “But it is a start and a step in the right direction,” he said. “Too often all we hear is people talking about doing. Now it’s time that we stop talking and start doing it.”
Seeking further insight, Le Sommet sat with local farmers. “Their participation was invaluable, and the meetings were extremely fruitful and enlightening. Everyone showed genuine interest and welcomed the opportunities it would provide for them,” Doralice said. “One farmer mentioned the establishment of a farmer's co-op, which in itself is intriguing and warrants further exploration, but if done properly would help to further empower local farmers and farming on the island.”
Doralice stressed that the initiative does not aim to compete with other farmers’ markets, but to complement local farmers and crafters by providing additional opportunities. “Farmers’ markets are gathering places that foster a sense of community and can provide a platform for local organisations and businesses to promote themselves,” he said. “It will provide an opportunity for residents and visitors to connect with each other, share ideas, support the development of a strong, vibrant community, and learn more about the importance of supporting local agriculture.”
The crafts and farmers’ market will be launched under Le Sommet Foundation’s community improvement initiative branch, geared towards community enhancement. Obtaining a place at the market will be free of charge to all produce vendors and crafters once they are registered.
All farmers and crafters are invited to register to participate as a vendor for the duration of this pilot program. Interested farmers and crafters are invited to attend final preparatory meeting scheduled to be held at the WIFOL building, Philipsburg, at 6:00pm April 20. Further information can be obtained via tel. 1-721-526-8232 or
Le Sommet Foundation thanked the Le Sommet board and team members and the WIFOL building’s management Theophilus Thompson and Ashma Berkel for supporting this initiative, is hopeful this will help more people get into farming, and looks forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on the community.