Farmers Makets

How to Beat Market Melancholia

In the summer, Farmer’s Markets are as much a staple in Victoria as fixed gear bicycles and mustaches. Now, every municipality hosts a Market Day, where droves of Birkenstock and Blundstone-shod feet pound the pavement as eager hands appraise produce with tentative squeezes. These markets are an essential slice of the city’s pie - connecting local farmers and artisans with urban populations, and business is booming! But then, the rains and winds come and the tents get packed away to return with the warmer weather. All except one: Moss Street.

In the early days, the Moss Street Market was no more than a few vendors with a handful of stands bearing the fruits of their labor, vying for the attention of the scattered shoppers, most of whom happened upon it by accident. And each Spring, the vendors would return, diligently set up their tents and tables and do it all again – and each year, more and more people would come to that little market ‘just up the road, near the castle’. Now, the Moss Street Market is a Victoria institution. So much so, that this little market runs year round bringing Victorians the best of what each season has to offer.

One of the market’s first vendors was Madoka Yasumura of Umi Nami Farms. The winning combination of Madoka’s passion and positivity has helped drive customers to the Umi Nami stall and they’ve kept coming back. “The questions (I get) are usually intelligent and well thought out and demand honest answers,” she says “Stallholders like it because they get appreciation for their efforts. It is amazing to watch how quickly the rapport is built up with their regular customers.” Vendors like Madoka who’ve been a part of Moss Street Market from the beginning are, perhaps – without knowing it – at the epicenter of something bigger; an entire ideological shift. Welcome to the Locavore Movement.

Today, everyone is thinking local. From the food we eat to the goods we buy, knowing its origin has become paramount. What better way to get information than going to the source and asking? Farmer’s Markets aren’t just quaint weekend affairs. They’re essential cogs in the sustainability movement. And this conscientiousness doesn’t end with the changing of the leaves. Victorians want to be able to access local goods year-round. Where else can you gain access to farmers, artisans and craftspeople in one location, ready and willing to answer your questions? Maybe queries about carrots don’t keep you up at night but if they did, the person with the answers is likely standing right in front of you.

This year, Moss Street will wrap up their regular outdoor market on October 31, ushering in the Winter Market, held every Saturday from 10am until noon in the Garry Oak Room at 1335 Thurlow Street. Here, you can still find local produce, crafts, food and entertainment – enough to sustain you until those white tents are set up outside again, welcoming Spring.  

 

Make sure to check out the Moss Street Market website! Your essential guide to the market, its vendors, entertainers and even a handy list of in-season produce to help you plan your visit!  

Make, Bake, or Grow: Why you can't miss the Esquimalt Farmers Market

If there’s one thing you absolutely MUST do before the summer ends, it’s visit a local Farmer’s Market. Picture this for a moment – it’s the (late) morning after the (late) night before and for better or worse, you’re nursing a much-needed coffee. You wander through the lazy crowd, giving the peaches an appreciative squeeze as you peruse stall after stall bending with organic produce, while children laugh and the strains of an acoustic guitar gently sweep the cobwebs away. Sounds like the opening scene to a Gilmour Girls episode I know, but rest assured… this is Victoria.

The newest addition to the list of markets on the Times Colonist’s interactive market map is the Esquimalt Farmers Market. Located behind the Library in the Esquimalt Town Center, this little neighborhood market opened in March 2015 and the response was incredible! The core tenants of the market are simple: Make, Bake or Grow. Supporting local growers and producers who adhere to environmentally sustainable practices, opens up the market to neighbourhood farmers and artisans whose yield is limited by the size of their home, which is awesome, if not ridiculously quaint. Not only is the economy being stimulated internally but those is search of great produce and a neighbourhood market vibe sans touristy chinz will be more than impressed. Esquimalt has become a model of Sustainable Market Culture – a progressive method of creating and strengthening the bonds of community.

But this wholesome, community-driven image is somewhat new for the Esquimalt area. Esquimalt has long had the stigma of being Victoria’s little cousin from the wrong side of the bridge - rough and tumble with more than a few dodgy friends. But things have started to change in the last few years. A recent crime report from the Victoria Police Department shows that Esquimalt is on par with Fairfield and Oak Bay, places which have maintained their squeaky clean reputation since…forever. Sure, there was a time when Esquimalt was a rougher industrial part of town, home to blue-collar docks workers and petty criminals but so much about the area has changed for the better. The municipality has focused on bringing community driven, family-friendly events to the area with the Township Community Arts Council and now the Farmers Market. In late 2014, a meeting was held to gauge the community’s response to a proposed Farmers Market, in early 2015 the first market day was held. You don’t get results like that from an estranged community riddled with crime.

With live music, artisans, farmers, food trucks and the Esquimalt Little Free Library exchange this market has become more than just a place to wander and buy local produce. It’s the hub for a community with a hell of a lot of heart.

*The Esquimalt Farmers Market season has been extended to September 24th! 

Video credit: Gabe from Esquimalt Parks and Recreation

Photo credit: Vanessa from Esquimalt Farmers Market

Poster design: Tara from Digitally Crafted