Market, o market, where art thou? It is the question on people’s minds as spring starts to show signs of life. My four-year-old nephew Tyler asks his mom, as they drive by Wesbild Centre: “Can we go to Auntie’s work?”
I know he loves me, but the fact that I work at a place with French fries, a bouncy castle and all the “weggies” you need for the week, means he can’t pass the Wesbild without thinking of the market. He doesn’t understand why we aren’t there all year, and like most people, he’s anxiously awaiting opening day. The Vernon Farmers’ Market opens its awnings Thursday, April 19 with new times from 8 a.m to 1 p.m. this year.
If, like me, there is that special someone you have been pining for all winter (the wood guy with the great new shelving units that fold down flat) and you didn’t get their card or can’t remember their name, visit our website at www.farmersmarket.ca and look them up in the vendor directory. Still no luck? Contact our market managers and describe away. They are sure to know who you are looking for and can give you contact information. Or check on that bottle of toothpaste you are scraping the bottom of or that last ounce of cream you are scooping out, there is likely a website right on the container. Most companies now, even small ones, have a website, e-mail addresses, or at the very least, contact information right on their packaging. And I’ll guarantee they want to hear from you as much as you want to find them.
So, you know the when and where, but what to do until April? There are a few things you can do to “hang in there” until the markets are back in full swing.
Visit farmers’ markets in the surrounding areas; Armstrong, Coldstream and Kelowna can get you by until we start back up again. Also check out seed swaps and local seedy Saturday events announced in the Community Calendar as they tend to start up this time of year.
Support your local health food and small grocery stores. Many of them are stocking your favourite market vendor products or produce. You may even become the catalyst of a new business relationship by informing local stores of local suppliers. Shop local and encourage the stores you shop in to do the same.
Also, plan for next year. We are still enjoying blueberries we froze from the market in our breakfast smoothies, tomatoes and peaches we canned in the fall, and herbs we froze in our sauces. You can enjoy farmers’ market produce all year if you plan ahead. Make room in the freezer for when the berries start, break out your canning supplies and brush up on mom’s old recipes for veggies, and warm up the dehydrator for drying fruit.
And you can always dream. It is about February when I start dreaming about asparagus. I wait all year for the delicious spears to come shooting through the soil in May. Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (a must-read for all you aspiring farmers), notes that asparagus starts losing its nutritional value the second it is harvested. So, buying it locally and in season is the way to go. In our family, we absolutely gorge on asparagus when it is in season. We eat it on pizza, in salads and soups. For breakfast we eat it in omelets and for lunch in wraps, and for dinner we roast it, barbecue it, sauté it and steam it. We eat so much of it that we don’t want anymore… at least not until the next crop comes around.
Hang in there; the markets are fast approaching and hopefully this will give you some ideas to keep you busy until then.
If you have any questions or feedback, you can also reach us on our Facebook page.
Terryn Thachuk is vice-president of the Vernon Farmers’ Market and owner of Om Naturale Herbal Care Company in Vernon.