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Farming folklore

Folklore department collaborates with St. John's Farmers' Market

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Every September, incoming graduate students in the Department of Folklore complete an intensive three-week field school where they learn the essential skills that comprise a folklorist’s tool kit.

Folklore masters students who participated in a three-week field school at the SJFM.
Photo: Submitted

This fall, the folklore field school was based at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market (SJFM).

The five students have spent the last two weeks interacting with market vendors and customers and honing their skills in areas such as documentary photography and conducting interviews.

Different than tourism ads

Folklore faculty members, Drs. Jillian Gould and Diane Tye, are the course instructors. Dr. Tye says the market is a “wonderful” location for the field school.

“The market community is culturally diverse and reflects a different St. John’s than the one we see in tourism ads,” she said.

“Our time there is proving once again how much can be learned about a city through its food. Everyone at the market has been so welcoming. Overall, it’s been a great introduction to folklore fieldwork for all of the students and an amazing introduction to the city for the two who are new to the province.”

During their time at the SJFM, the students interviewed several vendors and recorded market day sights and sounds.

Megan Webb is a new master of arts student.

“As someone interested in material culture and how people tell stories and share their experiences through physical items, I feel that looking at the farmers’ market is a fantastic opportunity,” she said. “We have all been lucky to meet and connect with some amazing people and each of us has learned a lot.”

“It is a place rich in tradition that stems from generations of farmers and artisans across this province and beyond.” — Pam Anstey

Pam Anstey, the executive director of the SJFM, says she has thoroughly enjoyed working with the Department of Folklore’s faculty members and students.

“While the farmers’ market is not the first thing that may come to mind when thinking about folklore, it is a place rich in tradition that stems from generations of farmers and artisans across this province and beyond,” Ms. Anstey said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of our community within the community and we are delighted to be able to partner with these skilled researchers from Memorial to be able to give their work the space and opportunity to discover and grow.”

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the students will share some of their findings in a pop-up exhibit in the market’s Community Room. The exhibit, Behind the Vendors: Building Communities, will be held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The exhibit is open to the public and free of charge. Light refreshments will be served.

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