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Ready for winter to be over? Give yourself a winter break and head to one of BC’s beautiful winter farmers’ markets!
With BC’s mild climate and greenhouse operations, we’re lucky to have so many farmers’ markets stay open year-round. “The farmers’ market is a great place to get inspired,” says Pam Lim from the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. “There is no better place to find unique varieties of produce, healthy alternatives and new flavours. Plus, it’s a fun outing any day of the year, whether you are snuggled up grabbing a hot chocolate, stocking up on party supplies for a cheese plate, or loading up on berries and peaches to carry you through until next season.” And aside from taste, she adds, you’re supporting your local economy and engaging with your community. Sound like a good way to brighten up your February? Here are just three of the amazing markets you can find in BC this winter:
Lower Mainland: Royal City Farmers’ Market
Just one year after it started, it was obvious to everyone that New Westminster’s Royal City Farmers’ Market needed to become a year round market…because people missed their farmers when they were gone. “To go six months without having that regular shopping was tough for everyone,” explains Operations Manager Melissa Maltais. “And it’s nice to have this reminder that spring is around the corner.” Right now you can find apples and terrific baked goods at the market, along with meat, produce, dairy, wine and other local artisans (“Hunker down with a cup of tea and a cinnamon bun,” laughs Melissa.) If you’re looking for something really fresh, be sure to look for their new microgreens vendor.
Royal City Farmers’ Market is open every 1st and 3rd Saturday from 11am to 3pm, at River Market in New Westminster
The Cariboo: Prince George Farmers’ Market
Prince George’s year-round farmer’s market clearly has a lot of fans in their community: after all, it won the BC-wide We Heart Local award for Favourite Farmer’s Market this year. Right now you’ll find grass-fed beef, sustainably farmed fresh produce and artisan breads at the market; along with crowd-pleasing vendors like Grandma’s Goodies and Fresh Pastas, where fresh pasta is made while you watch. But how did Prince George come to have a farmer’s market that’s year-round? Secretary Brenda Langlois explains, “We came to the realization that having access to healthy local produce couldn’t just be a five or six months experience. If our market was serious about promoting our local food economy, it had to continue through the winter and provide customers with the product they want all year round.”
The Prince George Farmers’ Market indoor market operates year-round every Saturday from 8:30am to 2:00pm on 1074 6th Avenue.
Vancouver Island: Duncan Farmers’ Market
Drive north from Victoria and you’ll find yourself in some of the most beautiful farmland in BC…so it’s no surprise that it’s home to great winter markets as well. “You make it, you bake it, you grow it, you sell it”: that’s the philosophy behind the Duncan Farmers’ Market. Boasting a huge list of vendors and wide range of products, you’ll be sure to find anything you’re looking for, locally: Farm products, gardening products, preserves, baked goods, sewing and knitting and even special treats for your pets. Located right next to Duncan’s City Hall, this market has a traditional feel – though it includes modern elements like its own webcam!
The Duncan Farmers’ Market operates every Saturday year-round. Winter hours are 10am-2pm on 200 Craig Street (downtown Duncan’s Market Square)
Find a farmers’ market near you! Try this mobile-friendly handy locator tool from the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets and if you’re a first time visitor, you’ll want to check out these tips before you go (link to copy below). Once you’ve filled your bags with fresh produce, head to our Facebook feed for cooking inspiration – we’re always posting recipes like these, along with great interviews with our favourite farmers. And finally, to see what’s in season, you can refer to our In Season Guide and We Heart Local app, which shows you where to buy local.
New to visiting a winter farmers’ market? Here are four tips from BCAFM’s Pamela Lim to keep in mind:
- Talk to your farmer. Ask questions, ask for recipe ideas, ask how to cook this or how to eat that. They have a wealth of knowledge and are generally pretty happy to chat and share tips on preparation and storage.
- Try the ‘weird’ stuff. Farmers markets are a great place to discover unique items. Garlic scapes, blue potatoes, sxusem berries, kohlrabi – all delicious!
- Bring cash and your own reusable shopping bags. Some farmers’ markets may accept credit cards but good ol’ cash is still your best bet.
- Take your time, browse, grab a coffee or a friend and enjoy. There’s a sense of authenticity and something very unique about farmers’ markets. They’re reminiscent of simpler days when we knew where our food came from and who tended to it.
Ready to find a farmers’ market near you? Try this mobile-friendly handy locator tool from the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. It’s a great complement to our In Season Guide and our We Heart Local app.