The farmers are in the dell
It all started 20 years from humble beginnings.
In a field under the guidance of Gary Rolston, the district agriculturalist, a few Comox Valley farmers got together to market their product directly to the public for the first time.
On a good day there were about 10 of them and maybe 100 customers that first year.
Now, the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market includes more than 100 members and 60-plus vendors on the field peak season – and thousands of customers each week.
More than a million shoppers are estimated to have loaded their bags with the Valley’s bounty at the market in the past two decades.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his belly – well, if the folks who frequent the farmers’ market are any indication, this is also true for women and kids (and dogs). Smiling faces abound on the field each Saturday, while shoppers scan the stalls to see what’s ripe and ready this week.
The market manager claims the devotion is strong.
“Every week there are folks here at 8:30 even though the market vendors are not allowed to sell before 9. These shoppers are serious, cruising the grounds for the first bunch of asparagus or the first strawberries. When the bell goes — they know where they’re going!”
In fact, farmers markets are springing up all over B.C. and across Canada, and not just for the farmers. Originally, farmers’ markets were all about getting food from the farm to the table — without the middle man (retailer) taking a cut. As markets grew, they realized that they provide many more benefits to both farmers and communities.
The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market runs year round. From April to October you can find it at the Exhibition Grounds on Headquarters Road and from October to April, at the Native Son’s Hall.
Watch for the announcement of the Wednesday Summer Marketing starting in June.