Winter markets take root in Nanaimo

NANAIMO – Farmers' and other vendors deliver food and variety with winter markets.

Island Roots Farmers’ Market might not have a permanent home indoors, but it has found a place to den up for the winter.

The market, which has been operated from Pleasant Valley Hall, at 6100 Doumont Rd., since Oct. 22, is just a couple minute’s drive from Nanaimo’s major shopping centres.

The market, which is open Wednesdays 3-6 p.m., is one place shoppers can pick up locally produced from fresh eggs, Swiss chard, radishes, beets, turnips, kale, onions to raw dark chocolate and spicy sausages.

Larry Whaley, co-founder of the Island Roots Market Co-op, said the permanent home the market was hoping to move into needed expensive building code upgrades, which forced the cooperative to abandon plans to move into the location.

“There had been a number of renovations over the years to the facility that were done without building permits and some of them were not up to standard,” Whaley said. “We decided that we would do a one day a week operation, so that we have a winter market and we’ll keep looking for a way to do a permanent five day a week or seven day a week market.”

Whaley said the cooperative’s summer markets have been successful and the winter market has so far proven popular, which has taken some of the pressure off of finding a permanent location for the interim.

A year-round market has also opened up in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256 hall on E. Wellington Road.

The open vendors market, which started in the summer in Maffeo Sutton Park, offers a variety of arts, crafts, new and vintage items and is open every Thursday 5-9 p.m.

Part of the market’s sales proceeds and table fees support a new non-profit charity, the Society for the Care of Abused and Rejected Feline Exotics (SCARF).

Doug Nelson, owner of Purrfound Cattery and a cat breeder, said abandoned exotic cats will become a growing problem.

“As a responsible breeder, we decided to take on this society to care for the cats,” Nelson said. “There’s several breeders in the Lower Mainland now who are selling the larger cats indiscriminately. They [cats] bond for life when they go out and they’re selling them to 20-year-olds. They [cats] live for 22 years. You can imagine what will be happening in the next five years, so we’re trying to nip in the bud and get ahead of it.”

The problem of abandoning long-lived cats isn’t just restricted to young people who take on the animals without realizing the commitment they’re entering into, but people of all ages whose lives might change unexpectedly. Nelson said he already has five felines under his care.

Some of the cats will make appearances at the markets to help raise awareness and donations.

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