Nanaimo’s outdoor farmers’ markets are getting set for their favourite time of year. Markets will be opening up this month.
Nanaimo’s original farmers’ market, Nanaimo Downtown Farmers Market, has switched from Fridays to Saturdays. It opens May 11 and runs 9 a.m.-2 p.m. until Sept. 14 at Pioneer Waterfront Plaza in downtown Nanaimo and features local farm produce, meats, eggs, dairy, baked goods, artisan crafts and entertainment throughout the summer.
“We’ve been Fridays for a long time,” said Pat Swan, Nanaimo Downtown Farmers Market Society vice-president. “I think last year we felt like we had a little bit less traffic because of the Thursday night market … so we thought, OK, let’s try Saturday. There was nothing else happening on Saturdays in Nanaimo at this point … so we thought we’d give that a try.”
For market updates and other information, visit http://nanaimodowntownfarmersmarket.com/.
After more than 20 years of summer Sundays on the Crow and Gate Pub grounds, Cedar Farmers Market opens for the 2019 season at Woodbank Elementary School at the corner of Woobank and Morland roads.
“Our market has outgrown its humble beginnings,” said Kate Orchard, market manager, in a letter sent to the News Bulletin and posted on social media.
Cedar Farmers Market features dozens of foods, crafts, arts and specialty items and live music entertainment and has long been a popular Sunday outing destination. Orchard said the new site offers easier access and more parking, especially for people with mobility challenges.
Cedar Farmers Market runs Sundays from May 12 to Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To learn more, visit www.cedarfarmersmarket.org.
Island Roots Market is emerging from its winter den at Pleasant Valley Hall for its spring and summer season at Beban Park. Island Roots Market Co-operative’s goal is to provide a year-round space for farmers, artisans and other vendors to sell locally produced fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, artisan bread, wine, beer and liquor, soap, jams, coffee, plants and more.
The market at Beban Park operates Wednesdays 4-6:30 p.m. starting May 15.
Michele Greene, market manager, said new for this year is a food truck serving Middle Eastern food and Thirsty Spirit of Nanaimo will be one of the market’s coffee vendors.
“We’ll have a knife sharpener this year and a chair massage,” Greene said.
Wayward Distillation House, a Courtenay-based distillery that crafts spirits from honey, has also joined the market’s vendors along with the Candy Empire from Gabriola for the 2019 season.
Gabriola Farmers Market, operated by the Gabriola Agricultural Association Co-op, runs Saturdays, May 18 to Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Agi Hall, 465 South Rd.
Food and produce comes exclusively from Gabriola farms, said Eric Veale, board member of the co-operative, but anyone who hops the ferry from Nanaimo to check out the market will discover plenty of arts and crafts vendors there too.
“Well, of course, Gabriola is the island of arts so, besides our local growers, we have a lot of very creative people over here, a lot of crafts people and value-added things,” Veale said.
The market participates in the B.C. Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which provides farmers’ market coupons to lower-income families and seniors.
“It gives people access to a little healthier food, local food, and of course, puts a few more dollars in the farmers’ pockets … It’s one of those really good programs and there’s a food literacy program connected with it,” Veale said.
To learn more, visit the market’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GabriolaFarmersMarket/.
Nanaimo Online Farmers Market comes to its customers. The market’s locally sourced products and produce are delivered to buyers’ homes every Wednesday.
Sarah Silver started the business in September 2017.
“The customers can place the orders up until Monday night at 9 p.m. and at that point I make arrangements for the pick-up of those items and then I set out Wednesday mornings to visit the farms and pick up the orders for that week,” Silver said. “So, a lot of times, the greens are being harvested that morning, so they’re super, super fresh.”
The market runs year-round, so the product catalogue varies according to the season, but some produce, such as Early Girl Microgreens products that are grown indoors, are available throughout the year.
“So it’s a nice salad mix that you can have in February,” Silver said.
Farmers’ markets offer a festive shopping atmosphere with entertainment and social interaction, but Silver said her customers like the convenience of having local products delivered and supporting the local food economy.
“Then I also have a number of customers who have mobility challenges or transportation issues and farmers’ markets can sometimes be a bit problematic for those people … this is specifically for people who want to access local, but find it difficult for one reason or another, so we’re just trying to remove the barriers for the access,” she said.
Nanaimo Online Farmers Market serves Nanaimo, Cedar and Lantzville.
To learn more, visit https://nanaimofarmersmarketonline.ca/.