Gayle Rondeel’s passion for gardening and her desire to enhance and grow her community has not only resulted in her creating a top notch farmers’ market, it has netted her the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association Community Builder Award.
Rondeel, the manager of the Rimbey Farmers’ Market, received the award at the Old Strathcona market in Edmonton recently. She received her award along with Elaine Varty, president of the market.
“It was really quite an honour,” she said. “It was very humbling.”
Rondeel was quick to add the success of the Rimbey’s Farmer’s Market is not only due to the efforts of one individual.
She noted board members Elaine Varty and Annette Peck as well as assistant manager Connor Ibbotson, his brother Ronan and ambassador Brian McKilligan all play a role in making the market a popular hub of the community on Saturday mornings from spring until fall.
Rondeel began as manager in 2007, the same year the market was moved to Pas Ka Poo Park.
“When I started, the market had 10 vendors and it had had a few different homes,” she said. “But I had a vision of how I thought it should be so the community would get a total experience.”
Rondeel’s vision included having great vendors with eye catching displays which would be spread out on the grass, a live band playing catchy ear pleasing tunes and the delicious smell of breakfast cooking wafting in the air.
With hard work and dedication, the plucky manager has been able to turn her vision into a reality.
“We usually have around 35 vendors, but our goal has always been to have 50,” she said.
There are also two Christmas farmer’s markets in Rimbey, held at the Peter Lougheed Community Centre. These markets are popular with around 100 vendors in attendance.
For Rondeel, the road to becoming manager began in a rather unlikely, but almost predictable way.
In 1984/85 she and her husband Ed made and sold wooden toys to local markets. She also did ceramics and sold vegetables at the markets.
Now, as manager of the Rimbey market she is always open to new ideas and welcomes vendors who have new and interesting products.
“I want a really well balanced market offering lots of diversity,” she said.
For Rondeel, meeting and chatting with the people who crowd to the market is one of the highlights of being manager.
“If you bring anything to the market at all you should bring a smile or at least take one home with you,” she said.