Sadie Wright enjoying the year's first outdoor Bulkley Valley Farmers' Market.

Sadie Wright enjoying the year's first outdoor Bulkley Valley Farmers' Market.

Market starts with new hours

The outdoor farmers' market was busy on its first day, but not all are happy with the time change.

Bulkley Valley Farmers’ Market Association board president William Elliott deemed the first outdoor market for 2015 a success despite vendor concerns over new opening hours introduced Saturday.

On April 11 the association’s membership voted to change the weekly market’s opening hours to 9 a.m.-1 p.m., an hour later than its previous hours of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Elliott said the time change was based on research that showed the number of customers was lower by about half between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

He said the numbers, which came from a 2012 study by the University of Northern British Columbia and a survey conducted by the association in 2014, were backed up by vendor feedback.

“The anecdotal evidence coming from vendors is that it is very slow early in the morning and then right at the time we are shutting down at noon there are still a lot of people wanting to shop,” he said.

Elliott said a number of vendors had voiced their concerns about the new times but the board had conducted consultations before it put the decision to a vote.

Of the association’s membership of about 70, 50 voted on the change. Of those, 75 per cent were in favour of the new hours.

Dunnloggin Ranch owner Robin Hawes last month wrote to The Interior News to voice his opposition to the time change.

He blamed the change on an increase in the number of craft vendors at the market.

“It appears that we the farmers have lost control of our market to a group of crafters, most of whom have no understanding of agriculture and have no interest in farming in the Bulkley Valley,” he said in the letter.

“We would like to thank you for your patronage over the past years and apologize for any inconvenience.”

Speaking at the first outdoor market last Saturday, Hawes said he had lost about 10 regular customers who were able to attend the market before work under the old opening hours.

However, he said his produce had withstood the heat and most of his pickled eggs had sold.

“We don’t really have the stuff that will go down in the heat, everything held up today,” he said.

Also speaking at the market, Elliott said he had received positive feedback from the vendors on the day.

“I saw equivalent if not greater line-ups at 9 a.m. than we usually see at 8 a.m. and then that grew very quickly so there were lots of people here,” he said.