Apple Tree Market: From Growing Food to Growing a Business

Apple Tree Market in Gagetown, New Brunswick, grew from the seed of an idea that owners Julie Baglole Keenan and Sean Keenan had when they planted themselves in the rural community in 2010. Musician Sean and engineer Julie began growing food for themselves as a hobby, but it soon turned into a full-time farming job for Sean.

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“In looking for somewhere to sell our produce, we started the local farmers market in 2014,” says Julie. From there, the couple became part of Slow Food — a global movement for good, clean and fair food for all — and they were selected as two out of 15 Canadians to attend a conference in Milan, Italy, last October. “That was the final motivation we needed to open our local food market in the village of Gagetown in April 2016,” Julie recalls.

Apple Tree Market sells everything from fresh local produce to canned goods and natural cleaning products, as well as locally made gifts such as candles, wooden cutting boards and soap. Visitors can pick up tea or Down East coffee to drink in the shop or take on the road. Apple Tree Market also runs a program that enables local residents to pre-order a box of fresh produce every week.

Julie and Sean are passionate advocates of local farms and producers. “When you’re shopping for seasonal produce, get out of the grocery store and hit up your local farmers market or farm store,” suggests Julie. “That way you can speak directly to the farmers, or to someone who probably knows the farmers themselves.” Another tip: “Look for carrots and beets with greens attached — this is a sign of freshness!”

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When Julie and Sean opened the market, they needed a quick point of sale solution for selling to the public, and conventional debit/credit machines were going to take too long to obtain. “We started using Square because of its ease of use and quick startup,” says Julie.

The couple’s biggest challenge has been the learning curve that comes with a much larger-scale market. “When we started, I wish we would have truly understood both the workload to come and the pleasure and pride the business would bring. One makes the other worth every minute of work,” says Julie. Processing payments, on the other hand, hasn’t come with any surprises. “Square is so simple to use that it has been one thing we don’t have to think about!”

Apple Tree Market can be found at 50 Front Street, in Gagetown. The Gagetown Farmers Market takes place on the town’s waterfront every Sunday between June and Thanksgiving weekend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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