Marché is a Farmers’ Market that started its business in October 2012 at Marronnier Park. The market began with the idea of providing a place where farmers could meet customers and share stories about how they grew their vegetables. Also, craftsmen who sell handmade craftworks and chefs who provide vegetarian meals using the Marché’s vegetables participated in the market.
The market opened twice a month until last March at Marronnier Park. Starting this April, Marché opened a vegetable market in two different places, each at Hapjeong-dong and Seongsu-dong. Now, Farmers’ Market at Marronnier Park is only held on the second Sunday of each month.
One unique feature of Marché was that they went for zero waste from the very beginning in 2012. The market encouraged customers to bring their own bags and provided dishes for those who bought meals cooked by chefs at the market.
“The vegetable market started with the idea of solely selling vegetables,” said Seo Eun-song, a manager of Marché. “As more and more people visited the Farmers’ Market, customers complained it was difficult for them to do grocery shopping. So, we tried to provide an opportunity where customers can interact with farmers.”
According to Seo, Farmers’ Market and vegetable market differ greatly in terms of their size, the former consisting of 50 teams and the latter ranging around 10 teams. On the day Ewha Voice visited the market at Hapjeong-dong, there was only one chef present serving vegetarian meals, while the Farmers’ Market usually had around 20 to 30 teams serving food.
Seo further commented about the worries before starting the vegetable market.
“We were concerned whether people would visit the vegetable market as its size was smaller compared to Farmers’ Market,” Seo said. “Fortunately, a lot of people came to take a look and many products were sold out even before the closing hour.”
Seo also mentioned that running a vegetable market was a challenge as many people nowadays tend to order meals to their homes instead of cooking for themselves. This is one of the reasons why the market has chefs to cook and show how customers can enjoy vegetables.
Initially, Marché began when two activists and an owner of a café gathered and tended a vegetable garden at a rooftop. Due to surpluses, they thought of selling these vegetables and asked some of the farmers’ acquaintances to join them. Although the market started with a few members, it currently has many farmers signing up to join.
“I participated in the market as a seller this year,” said Kim Hyun-sook, a farmer from Yangpyeong County. “The market is very famous among farmers, so that’s how I came across it.”
Kim explained that she cooperated with the chef last month by providing her vegetables to the chef. She also mentioned that workers at Marché came to their farm to share agricultural tips with the farmers.
Customers who visited the vegetable market on Aug. 27 commented that they came across the market via online platforms.
Lee ga-young, a customer who visited the market with her young daughter, said that she chanced upon the market through a portal site. Yoon ho, another customer on the same day, stated that he encountered the market via Instagram.
When asked about the main customers who visit the market, Seo replied that they couldn’t give an exact answer.
“We conducted a survey last year to check who came as customers,” Seo said. “However, we were unable to come up with a meaningful result as 50 percent of the visitors were always newcomers. Rather, we found out that regular customers, those in their 30s and 40s, and chefs come early near the opening hour while the young come around lunch time to enjoy the market culture.”
For their future plans, Seo replied that they will continue running markets to provide primary products and run projects related to food and markets.