A provincial initiative to connect British Columbians with farmers markets is expanding.
In a July 31 press release the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) announced the expansion of its BC Farmers’ Market Trail initiative this summer.
The new website is designed to connect locals and tourists alike to 145 BCAFM member farmers’ markets across the Province.
“The BC Farmers Market Trail is an excellent resource that both visitors and locals can use to find local produce and artisan goods,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
“Sharing local and seasonal specialties is a great way to showcase all that British Columbia offers and supports the work of makers and growers. Exploring our province through farmer’s markets and healthy, fresh food is a great way to travel.”
The website is outlined in a way where users can search for farmers markets based on geographical region. Each market has a brief description, as well as additional information like parking availability and hours of operation. You can also see what’s in season in various regions across the province (in Northern B.C., it currently has radishes listed).
The BCAFM operates under a make, bake or grow policy under which all participants must produce their product themselves.
Designed to meet BC’s demand for information on sourcing all things local, the BC Farmers’ Market Trail is a free, user-friendly tool that enables the public to find farmers’ markets featuring food and goods that have been grown or made in BC.
The tool is supported by Destination BC’s Co-operative Marketing Program, as well as through a various number of partners.
“The BC Farmers’ Market Trail is a great example of marketing collaboration and alignment across the province, connecting travelers with ways to eat and shop locally for farm fresh foods,” says Marsha Walden, CEO of Destination BC. “This trail unites the collective power of tourism champions in towns, cities, and regions with a common purpose – the result being a great trip-planning tool for visitors and residents that enables them to enjoy healthy food choices on the way to their destination.”
This season the trail is expanding to feature various farmers’ markets across the Province, including in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Northern BC, Sunshine Coast, and Vancouver Island and Gulf Island regions.
This is in addition to the Kootenay Rockies and Columbia Basin region, which launched with the program in in 2018.
Now in its second year, BCAFM executive director Heather O’Hara says the growth of the Trail reflects the desire amongst British Columbians to support the more than $150 million in economic benefits to the provincial economy annually provided through farmers’ markets.
“On the Trail, each BC farmers’ market is beautifully profiled to showcase the uniqueness of every community and diversity of every region,” says Heather O’Hara, BCAFM executive director. “BC farmers’ markets feature the best that the province has to offer from local farmers and entrepreneurs, making local food and artisan goods more accessible to shoppers, and providing an economic boost to each and every community.”
Notable vendors this year include Woodgrain Farm from Hazelton, which sells vegetables, various grains and lamb.
Woodgrain farmer Jonathan Knight said that he started his business 10 years ago.
It was also the first year he started selling at the Hazelton Farmers’ Market (and the first year that market came into existance).
Knight says that for businesses like his, farmers markets are essential.
“Our business is centred around the farmers market, so what farmers markets do is they allow you to develop a direct relationship with the consumers … who are purchasing your product.
“It makes it a really authentic experience to go the market because the person you’re buying from … has actually grown those vegetables.”
He said another positive element about Farmers’ markets, especially in rural areas like the north, is that they offer a chance to interact with the local community.
“It’s our big social event of the week to get out to the market, because farming is otherwise a pretty solitary thing.”
You can visit the trail at https://bcfarmersmarkettrail.com