Farmers’ markets gearing up

  • Mar. 19, 2014 1:00 p.m.

By Laura Bishop–We may barely be out of winter’s clutch, but island vendors and organizers are preparing for farmers’ markets on spring’s horizon, the first of four getting started last weekend.”I think that supporting local markets is incredibly important, especially in small towns like Sandspit, and elsewhere on island. Not only do markets provide an opportunity for local commerce, creativity and increasing local social capital, they are also a hub for bringing residents and visitors together in a positive social atmosphere based on the mutually rewarding exchange of goods, conversation and ideas. These outcomes contribute both directly and indirectly to the health and vibrancy of the community,” said Sandspit Farmers’ Market organizer Amber Faktor.The Queen Charlotte Farmers’ Market is leading the charge, opening this Saturday, March 15 from 11 am to 3 pm outside the community hall. The market runs until November, although organizer Kay Pringle says you can find some of ‘die-hard’ vendors out until just before Christmas.Ms Pringle said she’s not sure how many vendors will be out this weekend, but come summer time there is usually at least ten tables full of island-made, baked or grown goods.Market-goers will find knitting, jams, pastries, cakes, bread, fresh vegetables and fruit, chicken, pork, beef, goat cheese, tomatoes, plants, beads, tye-dyed clothing, woodworking, and more.”A lot of people come on Saturday, it’s a real social thing. They’ll come over lunch, and we have hot meals like chili and perogies available. They’ll socialize and enjoy the company,” said Ms Pringle.Vendor tables are $10 each time or $100 per season. Contact Ms Pringle at 559-9093 to ask questions or reserve a spot.The Masset Farmers’ Market is the next to begin, running Fridays from 3 pm to 6 pm on the Main St. centre median, early May until October.There are usually a few vendors there selling vegetables, fruit, baking, soap, and more. The Lavoie family is also there every Friday from noon until 5:30 pm selling vegetables and meat.Potential vendors are encouraged to come out and give it a try. It’s free and tables and tents are provided. Contact Jason Thompson at for more information.The Tlell Farmers’ Market is on Sundays from noon until 3 pm at the facility on the driveway to the soccer field, just south of the firehall. Look for the big sign along the highway from the May long weekend until the Thanksgiving long weekend.”The very best thing about our market is that it’s under a cover. Whenever the weather is horrible, it’s nice and dry at the market,” said Elizabeth Condrotte.Ms Condrotte says there is usually an average of five vendors each week, but sometimes fewer and sometimes more. Tables are chock-full of produce, goat cheese, soap, baking, jams and jellies, crafts, knitted scarves and toques, and much more.”We only sell things that people made, baked, grew, gathered, or processed,” said Ms Condrotte.She added that although there are few vendors, the traffic generated is quite high, citing an average of about 40 people per day, with some 70-people days as well. The stats work out to about one third locals and two-thirds tourists and people from other island communities.New vendors are always welcome, and in the past it cost $10 per table or $100 per year. Another feature she hopes will increase numbers is a refrigerated cold storage unit where vendors can keep their goods from week to week. Buskers and entertainers are also invited to participate in the market.Ms Condrotte also mentioned the site building is up for rent any day of the week besides Sundays, saying it would be ideal for weddings, flea markets, yard sales, birthday parties, and more. Call her for details about vending or rentals at 557-4323.The Sandspit Market has a later start in early June and operates on Sundays until September, with the exceptions of the music festival and Logger Sports Day weekends. Vendors set up at the Agnes L. Mathers school field, or move the market inside when the weather is rainy. It’s open from 11 am until 1 pm, says organizer Ms Faktor,which works out perfectly with the current ferry schedule for people wanting to visit from Graham Island.There are usually about six vendors each market, she said, with a wide range of goods available depending on which vendors attend.The long list of goods includes assorted baking, locally grown produce, eggs, seedlings and starters early in the season, fresh cut flowers later in the summer, jewelry, knitted and crocheted goods, woodworking, hot food items, coffee and tea, as well as a woman cutting hair, and more.”We’d love to have more, and the great thing that many potential vendors don’t realize, is that the tables are free,” said Ms Faktor.She can be contacted at 637-5461 and the Sandspit Farmers’ Market has a Facebook page called Moresby Market, where schedule changes, reminders and pictures will be posted.As early as this weekend, islanders can get out, get social and support their local economy at a farmers’ market near them.