With more and more people turning to organic foods and 100-mile diets, the Nicola Valley Farmers’ Market is back up and running giving Merrittonians access to locally grown food and other products.
Open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Farmers’ Market offers locally grown produce, as well as meat, jams, honey, baked goods and crafts, and so far business has been good for many vendors.
“I find people are demanding more locally grown food,” said Henry Martin from behind the table where he was selling rhubarb, radishes and Bordeaux spinach amongst other natural produce on Saturday.
Martin, who lives in an apartment, practices SPIN (small plot intensive) farming and grows his produce in other people’s gardens.
“People are becoming more distrustful of big markets and at least here we know it’s safe,” he said.
Farmers’ Market president Lucas Handley has seen this trend as well and said the market gives customers the ability to actually interact with the people who grow the food.
“If they have a concern they can ask how it was grown, if any chemicals were used and all that sort of stuff,” said Handley, adding that by shopping at the market people make sure their money stays in Merritt.
“The more people spend on local food, the more money will stay in the local market.”
A survey of the vendors from last year’s market indicated that over $60,000 was spent at the Farmers’ Market and Handley said they’d like to see that number grow even more this year.
So far the market has had about 10 to 12 vendors a week and with summer coming on, more of the vegetable vendors will be arriving.
Handley, who represents 3 Bar Farms, expects to be selling some of his own produce such as onions, nugget potatoes and rhubarb in the next few weeks, however, he said that the late spring has affected some of the crops throughout the valley and rising waters are still posing a potential problem.
“I’m starting to get puddles in my field and if it doesn’t hurry up and go away, it could flood some of the crops out,” he said. “But it’s warming up so hopefully we’re home free.”
Besides being able to purchase locally grown, baked or crafted items, visitors to the Farmers’ Market can also expect some fun and games each month. First on the calendar will be a dinosaur egg hunt on June 25 where participants will be given an initial clue, which will lead them to other clues hidden around the market at different vendors’ tables and eventually to a prize.
Following this will be a scarecrow building contest in July, a bike to market week in August, a corn eating contest in September and a pumpkin carving contest in October.