One of British Columbia’s longest-running farmers’ markets is celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2015. This Saturday, May 2, the Penticton Farmers’ Market will open for its 25th season.
“Over the years, PFM boards and members have worked diligently to protect the integrity of a true farmers’ market,” says president Moses Brown. “As a result, we now have one of the most popular farmers’ markets in the province. We are proud to support small-scale farmers in the South Okanagan and provide our customers with access to fresh, locally grown food direct from the farm every Saturday.”
The Penticton Farmers’ Market Society was founded in 1991 by a group of five farmers. It started in the Gyro Park parking lot with 10 vendors, but later outgrew its space and moved to the 100 block of Main Street in 2000.
Today, the market has 45 annual members, along with a pool of nearly 30 casual vendors who all make, bake or grow their own products. This season, the market will also host liquor vendors, including local wineries, distilleries and breweries.
"Local" under the society’s rules encompasses the area from Peachland to Osoyoos and Keremeos-Cawston.
According to the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, Penticton's is likely the third oldest market in the province that focuses on local food production. Armstrong started its market in 1973, followed by Vernon in 1979.
To mark the 25th anniversary, the market will host cooking demonstrations with local chefs on the first Saturday of every month, a children’s day in July, and a customer appreciation day in September.
Because of warm weather this spring, farmers say many of their crops are ready earlier than usual. Customers can expect a variety of vegetables, including asparagus, kale, spinach and salad greens, flowers, honey, eggs, baking, preserves and crafts.
When the Penticton Farmers’ Market started in 1991, there were about 25 in all of B.C. Now, there are more than 100.
A University of Northern B.C. study in 2006 found the economic value of the markets to be $65.3 million, plus an additional $53.3 million in spending by market customers at neighbouring businesses.
The market is open every Saturday until Oct. 31, from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the 100 Block of Main Street.