Vancouver farmer's markets spring to life

Dark March hurt crop yield

Farmers markets across Vancouver are gearing up for growth this year.

Vancouver Farmers Markets locations are busy prepping to open up in the next few weeks, and some with expanded markets as well. Trout Lake Farmers Market opened to a crowd this past weekend and Kitsilanos first of the season will run this Sunday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors to the Kitsilano Farmers Market at 10th and Larch Street can expect more stalls this year, located to the south of the Kitsilano Community Centre plaza.

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Roberta LaQuaglia, operations manager for the non-profit Vancouver Farmers Markets, said roughly 4,000 people are expected to show up at Vancouvers second most popular market in Kitsilano, but all preparations are running smoothly.

We have our plan for our vendors, our schedule is coming into place very well and we have almost the majority of the dates throughout the season completely booked, said LaQuaglia. The Kitsilano market has 55 to 60 vendors and closely follows the larger Trout Lake Market in size.

Markets across the city this year will also include 17 carts from Vancouvers quickly growing food cart industry, but only those that have met local sourcing guidelines will be allowed. LaQuaglia said if the carts are not selling products made from market sources, at least 25 per cent of their ingredients must be locally sourced.

Colin Hughes, owner of Celyddon Farms, will be one of the vendors at the Kitsilano market this weekend. Preparation for this time of year is crucial for him as the markets are his primary source of income. Hughes participates weekly at all the markets. Every Friday morning he and his crew of two summer students are busy picking produce for the weekend, and wake up at 4 a.m. on Saturday to take the produce to market.

While he grows 36 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants, he expects people to get most fired up for his cherry tomatoes after a winter without any local options for the fruit.

As a tomato specialist, Hughes will likely be participating in the tomato festival, one of the new features of this years market. It normally takes place at Trout Lake, said LaQuaglia about the new festival, but were adding one on Sept. 16 to Kitsilano because its such a popular event and we have quite a number of tomato growers at our Kitsilano market.

Although Hughes said a dark March has meant his crops are slightly behind, LaQuaglia expects line-ups for popular spring items, such as asparagus and tomatoes.

She said even those lined up will have to wait for the bell to ring at 10 a.m., signalling the start of the market.

Its a very keen crowd there at Kitsilano. We look forward to seeing them all again after a long break, said LaQuaglia.

The West End market opens June 2, Main Street Station market opens June 6, and the new Kerrisdale market will open July 7.

Twitter: @mickicowan

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