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Farmers markets growing strong

BC Association of Farmers Markets kicks off social media campaign



An early start to summer may be bad news for those clinging to the last flakes of snow on the mountain, but for those who make their living in the soil?

Make hay while the sun is shining.

This year the region's producers are taking full advantage of the sunshine — including a three-week headstart at the Whistler Farmers' Market.

"It's translated into a whole lot of happy customers and ecstatic vendors," said Whistler Farmers' Market manager Chris Quinlan of the early start.

Typically the market opens on Father's Day weekend, Quinlan said. This year's late-May start was the earliest in the market's history.

This year's market features some new vendors — like Plenty Wild Farms out of Pemberton or North Arm Knives out of Burnaby — but there's also an entirely new novelty intoxicating patrons.

"The really cool thing that's been happening is the addition of being able to sample and sell B.C.-made beer, wine and liquors," Quinlan said.

While the Whistler Farmers' Market continues to grow — Quinlan said the market would top out at a record 94 vendors this year — it isn't alone.

Farmers markets across the province are surging.

"It's really incredible, the growth we've seen at markets," said Georgia Stanley, manager of communications for the BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM), which now represents more than 125 markets throughout the province.

Hoping to keep the momentum going, the BCAFM is introducing a new social media campaign to encourage market shoppers to bring a friend along.

"The purpose of the (#MeetMyMarket) campaign is to really highlight farmers markets as a great source for fresh local food and highlight our markets across the province," Stanley said. "We want to reach out to people who are already farmers market converts and encourage them to bring a friend to the market, so that we can introduce new people to the markets."

Take a friend to your favourite market this July and you can fill out a ballot for the chance to win, among other things, a three-night getaway for two to Sparkling Hills Resort in the Okanagan.

The contest can also be entered via social media. Check for more details.

The Pemberton Farmers' Market is one of about 60 in the province confirmed to be taking part in the campaign. Like its Whistler counterpart, the Pemberton market has benefited from the warm weather.

"We're finding that we're just coming into some early season offerings from the farms. With the weather being the way it is things are ripening a bit earlier, so that's been great," said market manager Dawn Johnson.

The Pemberton market — open Fridays from 3 to 6:30 p.m. — sees about 30 vendors per week, Johnson said.

This year the Pemberton market is offering prepared food and live music at its new location in the Downtown Community Barn.

The Whistler Farmers' Market is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Starting in July it will also be open Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Check out for more info.


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