My wife and I have been farming in the local community since 1979. We raised our five children and supported ourselves from our farming income.
People would comment on how important farming and agriculture is and how we must protect the farm land for the future. We would sell our products wholesale and found we were always getting squeezed to lower our pricing until we finally had to start marketing our own products.
Through this process, we were introduced to the Vernon Farmers Market. When we introduced ourselves to the local community through this venue our business began to flourish and the market revenue became a considerable amount of our total revenue.
The Vernon Farmers Market began on what is now the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, 35 years ago. The market was started by local farmers and some of them, or their children, are there today. The regional district needed the property for the building of the performing arts centre and asked the market if it would move. The regional district explained that it was building a multi-use facility and this would become the permanent home of the Vernon Farmers Market. The market took a hit financially with the move since as we know, it takes time for people to change habits and this was the case with the market and their customers. However, the people of Vernon eventually embraced this new location and the market is thriving today.
There was talk of a second sheet of ice to be built down the road but not to worry because it would be located to the west on the Kin Race Track property and this would be the most feasible with the infrastructure of the current building and parking.
It appears the time has come for the new sheet of ice and it also appears that politically, the west option for the expansion is not going to work so the new sheet of ice will go where the Vernon Farmers Market’s permanent location is. The market appears to be the least important component to the city in this expansion.
The city is telling the market that it can have the back portion of the parking lot that is left over after the expansion is complete. This will be two-thirds the size of the current market. We still hear after 36 years how important agriculture is: buying local, protecting farm land and that children should know where and how food is produced. However, we see that this is just lip service when it comes to future planning.
Most communities have a fairgrounds or agriculture complex and the community grows up around it. This provides a community with a constant reminder of the way agriculture plays an important role in their everyday lives. This does not mean that farmers don’t support sports and sports facilities since many of them have children and grandchildren that take part in many sports including hockey. But we feel that agriculture should be just as important and should not be shuffled as though it weren’t.
We would like the City of Vernon to show how important agriculture is in our community by giving it as much consideration as a sports facility, arts centre, library or any other public facility. Anyone that has been to the market knows the value of it.
Our Vernon Farmers Market is an amazing market and we should all be very proud of it and do everything we can to protect it and keep it growing.
Joel and Rita Allen