Kirsta Franke has spent the last decade working to bridge the gap between producers, Edmonton businesses and citizens. For years, Franke, who is the founder of Wild Heart Collective and co-founder and partner at The Public, took part in organizing numerous significant events in the city, including Edmonton Christmas Market, Eats on 118, Holiday Light Up, as well as large-scale festivals such as Nuit Blanche, which attracted over 50,000 Edmontonians in its first year.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see the way people respond,” she says.
For Franke, it all began with launching the 124 Grand Market. While studying in university, she put together a proposal for the 124 Street Business Association, as a way to bring more people into the area. Starting with 20 vendors, the market has now grown to a collective of more than 300 businesses. Over 50 different projects and two start-ups later, Franke is certain there is nowhere else she’d rather be.
“I’m a pretty big cheerleader for the city,” she says. “There’s an incredibly rich network of people here that support each other.”
Her latest project, The Public, will allow local food businesses to scale up in a way that has never been done before.
“We’re building an integrated network of kitchens and markets to grow fledging food brands from initial locations to more scalable paths.”
A first of its kind in Alberta, the facility will connect culinary entrepreneurs, chefs, producers and distributers — and is set to open in early spring 2021.