Flower grower fights for the right to sell at farmers markets

Flower grower fights for the right to sell at farmers markets

Farmers markets were declared essential services, but only for food

A Kispiox farmer is fighting for his right to sell flowers at local farmers’ markets.

Jim Fowler of Kispiox Creations is growing frustrated with rules governing farmers’ markets and those who make them.

Farmers’ markets were declared an essential service by the Government of BC. in March, but were restricted to food sales.

Fowler said he has written to the BC CDC and the Ministry of Agriculture and participated in a webinar with the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) but hasn’t received answers to his questions.

“We are just coming out of the winter season and people have cabin fever, now we have COVID fever,” said Fowler. “You are going to allow vendors like myself to sell vegetable starts. People really appreciate the brightness of flowers and a lot more people are gardening because they are staying home. If we are going to be there selling vegetables why can’t we also sell flowers? And why is it that the big box stores can sell flowers like Canadian Tire and Safeway but not local flowers.”

Flowers make up two-thirds of his business, he estimated.

“I don’t make a profit on vegetables. It would cost me more to go to the market to sell them than I’d make,” he added. “We have no income in February, March and April. It is all expenses. And unlike crafters, who can store their inventory or people with meat that they can freeze, our flowers… if you don’t sell them you have to toss them and you lose your whole crop.”

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson said hopefully with time, more vendors will be allowed to sell at the markets.

“Our primary focus with farmers’ markets during phase 1 and now phase 2 of the BC Recovery Plan is food security as public safety minister Mike Farnworth declared the food supply chain an essential service in March,” he said. “We’ve all flattened the curve with our actions to date. As we continue with our individual actions we can bend the curve down which will hasten the return to a more normal situation where, for instance, we can enjoy buying non-food items at farmers markets as part of our economic recovery.”

Recently the provincial government provided $55,000 to the BCAFM to cover fees for individual farmers markets to join the online platform and set up their digital market store presence. This would allow each participating farmers market to create its own virtual market store to best serve its communities.

However, Fowler said that doesn’t work for his business because he doesn’t have access to reliable internet and doesn’t have cell service at his greenhouse.

“It is so frustrating that no one has a clue how things are in the north,” he added.

Both the Hazelton and Smithers markets have about a quarter of the vendors they normally see each week and each of the virtual markets are even smaller.

However, Folwer did say the bright side of the whole pandemic is that their greenhouse has never been busier.

“We have a lot of new people coming in, young families, that haven’t gardened are coming in. And we can give them advice.”

He said a school in Kispiox also just placed an order for some vegetable starters so their students can start planting.

Fowler also brought in some flowers to the Out of Hand Store in Smithers that people can purchase.

Kispiox Creations has a Facebook page where interested people can find a price list and directions to the greenhouse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Dan Imhof with a group of Bulkley Valley Soccer Society kids. (Contributed photo)
Two members of BV soccer club honoured with provincial awards

Daniel Imhof is Youth Coach of the Year and Georgia Mack is Administrator of the Year

Hazelton sign. (File photo)
Confusion, backlash surround Hazelton area zoning amendments

Housing shortages and affordability was the main concern from the public

Smithers Town Hall (Trevor Hewitt photo)
Council Briefs: Regular Meeting, November 24, 2020

Smithers Town Council approves $30,000 in technology upgrades to council chambers from COVID fund

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Most Read