The votes are in! Meet the winners of our third annual, province-wide We ♥ LocalAwards. This year’s awards garnered 286 nominees across 15 categories, receiving nearly 15,000 votes from readers like you. And while our 15 winners came from all over BC, one thing was abundantly clear from your votes: this year, all of our winners hailed from BC’s smaller, tight-knit communities. 2015 was the year for smaller towns to strut their stuff, and they clearly have the best of BC to offer!
Meet your favourites and our winners:
Favourite Farmers’ Market: With a deep-rooted love of their community and some impressive energy (they only got started in October 2014) Esquimalt Farmers Market’s “make, bake or grow” philosophy supports local growers and producers on Vancouver Island.
Favourite Store to Buy Local: What’s Nature’s Pickin’s’ secret to winning two years in a row? Living in the Fraser Valley, they’re surrounded by farms – so they work directly with farmers to get their products in the Abbotsford store.
Favourite Local Meat or Poultry Supplier: Winners Havesome Hogs (Slocan Park, Kootenay region) deliver on this promise:“Because we care for these animals from beginning to end, we can say without a doubt these animals are raised with care through their entire lives.” Plus, their hogs are raised on mash leftover from brewing local ale – sustainable, tasty and the pigs love it too.
Favourite Local Seafood Supplier: Two-time winners Bruce’s Country Market (Maple Ridge, Lower Mainland) keep it simple: they offer fresh-caught wild salmon from their own gill-netters, smoked salmon from their own family recipes…and a diverse selection of seafood and other local goodies, all in one spot.
Favourite Local Cheese Maker: We’ve been big fans of family-owned Little Qualicum Cheeseworks ever since we first saw their videos of their cows literally frolicking. This Parksville, Vancouver Island dairy’s got heart, plus the best cheesecake recipe you’ll ever taste.
Favourite Local Sweet Treat + Best In Show: There’s a lot to love about Reddy Made Cakes & Supplies, and no one knows it better than Abbotsford! To win Best In Show, a local favourite has to win the highest votes total – a challenge Reddy made look like a cake walk. The only hard part left is figuring out which cake to try first: will it be The Bad Bacon or Luscious Lemon?
Favourite Local Advocate: We asked winnerMiche Warwick what advice she has for everyone to become better advocates for local: “I think the most important thing about being a local advocate, is putting your heart and passion into all that you do. Speak out, and speak up! Be consistent, creative, and never give up. To advocate for local, you need to ‘be’ local. So live local, in all aspects of your life, and be a shining example for your community.” Check out how Miche lives this advice through her advocacy work in the Kootenays.
Favourite Local Winery: Located in Port Alberni on beautiful Vancouver Island, Emerald Coast Vineyards is family-owned and operated. Committed to sustainable practices, they don’t irrigate or farm more than half their acreage…and the result is an astonishing variety of delicious local wines.
Favourite Local Brewery: Locally brewed IPA’s are hot right now, and this category is highly competitive. Rossland Beer Company might not be a big-city brewery (in fact, they’re located in the heart of the Monashee Mountains) but they’re huge in flavour…and popularity. Beer lovers are welcome to stop by to fill their growlers – they’re sure to run into owner-operators Petri and Ryan while they’re there.
Favourite Local Food Truck: “Trattoria on wheels” Hotties Foods is a mobile pasta bar in Stave Falls (Mission) that uses local, organic ingredients and Nonna’s recipes to create mouth-watering food on the go. You had us all at “mobile pasta bar.”
Favourite Local U-Pick Farm: For 22 years, Willow View Farms has been selling their produce to the Abbotsford community, and their motto says it all: “our home, your farm.” At the heart of their philosophy is the goal of keeping local communities strong by inspiring people to support local farms – plus providing delicious u-pick produce like apples, plums, pears, pumpkins and corn.
Favorite Local Orchard/Fruit Supplier: Based in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, Yellow Point Cranberries is an innovative family-owned and operated cranberry farm. Don’t miss their tasting tours, which let you see a working sustainable cranberry farm, and enjoy a taste of their cranberry juice or goodies.
Favourite Local Chef or Restaurant/Cafe: From North Vancouver, Bluhouse Market & Cafe is deeply rooted in community values: they support local and fair trade farmers, offer local, organic sustainable food. Plus, they offer amazing buckwheat crepes that keep their community coming back for more!
Favourite Local Florist or Nursery: “Every day of your life is a reason to celebrate.” says The Bloom Bloom Room. Located in New Westminster. Using up-cycled vases, and offering local delivery, Bloom Bloom brings a warm sense of community to their professional bouquets – and they offer great advice on keeping your blooms local and fresh.
Favourite Local Greenhouse or Veggie Grower: A co-op of small and medium size growers dedicated to food security and sustainable farming practices, Farmship Growers Cooperative aims to broaden consumer access to healthy, locally grown food – and they’re pooling resources to contribute to local seed sovereignty. No wonder the community in Nanaimo loves them.
BC’s got so much to offer: mouth-watering local food, farmers committed to sustainable local practices, and communities determined to support them no matter where they are. Thanks to your votes, this year’s runaway support for smaller producers shows just how much heart our communities have. If you’re looking for more local to love, check out last year’s winners and our farmers’ guide – and congratulations again to this year’s We ♥ LocalAwards winners!