This year’s weekly Farmers Market in Clearwater is facing some hurdles, but organizers are trying to work on solutions to keep locally produced food in the hands of customers.
Due to COVID-19, many public functions have been cancelled or postponed, but food producers and community gardens have been deemed as essential services, though markets are now restricted to food sales only.
“(I’ve been talking to) the Farmers Market board and outgoing market manager; it will be challenging this year for sure,” said Joanna Hurst, coordinator for the Yellowhead Community Services’ (YCS) Food Security Program.
“The Province of B.C. just announced that markets will not be allowed to have non-food vendors and the majority of our Farmers Market food vendors are heading into retirement soon.”
The B.C. Association of Farmers Markets recently announced it was creating an online model so customers can choose items and pay online, and the B.C. government will also provide some funding to help markets around the province pay the fees associated with getting on the platform.
Hurst said this could be an option for the Clearwater Farmers Market as long as vendors and the market manager see it as a feasible way to do business.
The YCS Food Security program has also come up with the Let’s Get Growing contest as another way to encourage residents in helping with food sales at the market.
“Let’s Get Growing is a contest and awareness campaign to encourage all residents to grow their own food and support local food producers — just like the World War Two ‘Victory Gardens,’ we all need to step up and be responsible for feeding our own community and families, especially in these uncertain times,” Hurst said.
“We are asking you to post pictures, videos and comments of your food growing adventures on the YCS Food Security Facebook page to help create a community and friendly competition. When you post, you are automatically entered to win awesome prizes.”
The first step in entering the contest is fairly simple: get growing.
According to the YCS Food Security Facebook page, participants just have to do anything that involves growing, producing or supporting food grown close to one’s home, which can include, but isn’t limited to, growing a vegetable garden, planting a fruit tree, gleaning unpicked fruit, helping an elderly neighbor in the garden, or being a garden mentor.
A person could also offer one’s yard to a friend to plant a garden in, join a garden tour, grow a row of produce for the food bank, raise mushrooms, forage for wild berries, or raise bees or other livestock.
Step two of the Let’s Get Growing contest, as Hurst mentioned, is sharing which of the above initiatives you’ve decided to take on by posting photos or videos on the YCS Food Security Facebook page, and in turn, you’ll automatically be entered to win prizes.
“The Farmers Market and the North Thompson (Valley) need more local food. Whether you are a backyard grower or want to get serious and be a real farmer, we need you,” said Hurst.
“Even if you can only grow an extra row or two, consider joining with others like you to have a community food table at the Farmers Market. Every time we buy honey from a local beekeeper or grow our own cabbage, we are making a stronger food system that will be there for all of us, in good times or bad. If you want to get involved, please contact me.”
For more information, Hurst can be contacted at 250-674-3530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org