Farm market eyes the Hudson building

Society seeks space for daily, indoor market downtown

Reuben Shepherd

Reuben Shepherd

Halfway into its second winter season, the Winter Farmers’ Market has set its sights on a permanent, indoor location.

“We’ve been talking to several developers and we’ve had a couple of walk-throughs of the Hudson building,” said Maryanne Carmack, with the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society.

“It would be a perfect space … We’re just trying to create a gathering space for people to come and enjoy local food and create an atmosphere where it’s a destination.”

The society has been working for three years to find an indoor, daily farmers’ market in the downtown. For now, it hosts a twice-monthly market during winter inside Market Square. Vendors increased from a high of 12 last year to 25 this year.

While partially covered from the rain, the space is just too cold, Carmack said. “A lot of other successful cities in colder climates have permanent local farmers’ markets, but we don’t have one.”

With the help of a $20,000 grant, the society hired a consultant to prepare a business plan for launching one in Victoria. The report is due sometime in the next six months.

Some current vendors are interested, but unsure of whether they could commit to a daily market.

“I have six or seven products, but really, all I sell is salt and I’m not necessarily sure that’s an everyday thing for me,” said Andrew Shepherd, of the Vancouver Island Salt Company.

That said, he’s excited about the potential new  space. “There’s also the possibility of linking up with a couple other vendors and working it together.”

Both Shepherd and Matthew Horn of Cowichan Pasta Company travel the Malahat to take part in the winter market, which they describe as a great way to promote their products, which sell in several Victoria stores.

Horn plans to quit his job as a chef to focus on his pasta products, 70 per cent of which sell in the Victoria area. “I could very well see having a small spot there (in the Hudson), depending on pricing. I’m not 100 per cent sure.”

In the summer, Horn will sell at four different farmers’ markets.

“Having a permanent market would be a more feasible way to do all that (without) having to stretch myself out as much,” he said.