Farmers markets are becoming tourist attractions as well as supporting local food production. (Black Press file photo)

Esquimalt tops B.C. farmers markets for second straight year

Kyle Goulet, executive director of Moss Street Market, named Partner of the Year

The sixth annual BC Farmers Market Awards were held this month at the Kimberly Conference Centre to celebrate individuals and organizations that made outstanding contributions to the farmers’ market sector.

Esquimalt Farmers Market won Farmers’ Market of the Year and Kyle Goulet of Moss Street Market was named Partner of the Year.

RELATED: Lack of vendors, foot traffic ends Saanich Farmers’ Market

This is the second year in a row where Esquimalt Farmers Market has taken home the title and, according to Vanessa Pattison, vice-president of the market, the team was blown away to find out they had won again.

“We were kind of in disbelief at first,” says Pattison, adding the team wasn’t able to attend the conference but was glued to their computer screen, refreshing the page all night to find out who had won. “We thought, well last year we won so it probably won’t be us — but apparently we’re that good.”

Esquimalt Farmers Market has been operating for the past five years, developing a strong community engaged in environmental leadership, along with generating economic development in Esquimalt. The market provides a space for community members to gather regularly to meet, share ideas and — of course — eat.

RELATED: Esquimalt Farmers Market named top in B.C.

Pattison says it’s important to support farmers markets, besides the obvious reasons, because it has created a new amenity for the community to enjoy and a place for people to collaborate in sustainable ways.

“Whether it’s apples that can’t be sold because they have a little bruise, then it gets made into jam, and it’s great to see vendors communicating between themselves,” says Pattison. “It’s just amazing to see people collaborating like that.”

Along with supporting local businesses the Esquimalt Farmers Market offers a weekly hamper to community groups to provide perishable and non-perishable food items and toiletries — mostly from market vendors and farmers — to one community group per week including the Esquimalt Rec Centre Seniors Program, The Rainbow Kitchen, Esquimalt Neighbourhood House and Victoria Native Friendship Centre.

RELATED: B.C. farmers to benefit from late participation program

They are the leading farmers market when it comes to creating zero-waste, with guidelines that ban plastics and styrofoam and requires vendors to use sustainable materials while collaborating with community partners to support the community in promoting ethical and sustainable choices.

“Whether or not [plastic] is ending up directly in the ocean … we really have to think about it more and more — it’s really important to the team,” says Pattison. “We’ve been working with our vendors and our shoppers to see how we can eliminate as much plastic as we can.”

Kyle Goulet, executive director of the Moss Street Market, was recognized for being a strong advocate for ethical, sustainable and healthy food systems. This is his seventh year working with the market, starting as the market manager and transitioning to executive director in 2017. Goulet provides support and advice to other markets in the region, helping them provide communities with access to fresh, local foods while also supporting local businesses.

The Esquimalt Farmers Market runs bi-weekly indoors until March 21, changing to weekly on April 4 and moving outside on May 16. The Moss Street Market runs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon beginning in May. The market is currently seeking volunteers and sponsors to help with the upcoming summer, for more information visit esquimaltmarket.com



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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