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Nanaimo’s Island Roots Farmers’ Market asks city to better support its efforts

Year-round market makes five requests including rent reduction at Centennial Building
Island Roots Farmers’ Market asked Nanaimo city council for five items of support during the Monday, Oct. 3, council meeting. (News Bulletin file photo)

The Island Roots Farmers’ Market at Beban Park is asking the City of Nanaimo to help support the year-round farmers’ market.

At the Monday, Oct. 3, council meeting, Ben Glassen said that he not only represented Island Roots, but also the next generation of farmers who will reverse climate change and feed the community with “best practices and beneficial practices.”

“My personal goal is to reverse climate change, feed our community by participating in natural systems that build ecosystems the way that has been done for all of eternity,” said Glassen. “Island Roots has been here in Nanaimo for the past 14 years, and for seven years it has been the only year-round farmers’ market that we have.”

He said the market is shifting from a “corporate style” to “community participation style” and that the changes will help increase consumers attending the market, especially since they’ve experienced faster growth with vendors at the market than consumers. Glassen noted that, although COVID did increase consumers, “people are returning to their regular habits now” with little retention.

Although Nanaimo has made food security and local agriculture priorities in the new city plan, Glassen said, the city has “fallen short” of the practices he’s seen at other Island farmers’ markets.

He asked council for five items: to allow permanent signage promoting the market, to commit to certain hours of operation, to paint the Centennial Building at Beban Park, to support contingencies in case the outdoor use needs to be cancelled, and to reduce rent at the Centennial Building from $330 per week.

Bill Yarborough, treasurer for Island Roots, said the market’s main revenue was derived from weekly vendor fees, and that their single largest expense was to rent the building.

Coun. Jim Turley asked if Island Roots had considered promoting their project through local grocery stores as he’s seen in the Comox Valley.

“There can be a conflict of interest,” said Glassen. “We are an alternative place for people to shop and our goal is to create customers who will come and shop at our market.”

“I’m just having trouble with the city subsidizing it when others are paying taxes to have their doors open,” Turley said.

Before council adjournment, Coun. Ben Geselbracht made the motion for staff to provide a report to the finance and audit committee on how the city can increase support for the Island Roots Farmers’ Market. His motion passed with only Turley in opposition.

READ MORE: City considers tax receipts for farmers’ market building donations

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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