National Farmers' Market Week

by: EJ on 08/07/2013
Posted in: Food

Canada and the United States don't usually seem to coordinate their celebrations.  Thanksgiving is a good example.  Canada celebrates this harvest day on the third weekend of October while Americans wait until the end of November to feast on their turkey and squash.  Bike to Work Week is another one.  Both countries celebrate this week but at different times.  This can make it challenging for the blogger trying to write about "national" events for both a US and Canadian audience.  That is why I was so pleased to see that in local food matters, we seem to have followed the "national" hockey league's lead and coordinated our dates across the borders. 

This is the second year that National Farmers' Market Week has been celebrated in both Canada and the US.  In the states, this celebration is lead by the US Department of Agriculture and seems to be a response to the increasing demand from consumers for locally grown food. "Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods. In recent years, USDA has stepped up efforts to support local and regional marketing opportunities for producers, including a modernized Farmer's Market Directory to help connect farmers, consumers, communities, and businesses around the country."

You can access the Farmers' Market Directory here.

In Canada, the approach seems to be a little more parochial (which is probably fitting for a local food initiative).  Nova Scotia is the most active province with plenty of events and publicity around them.  In fact, in this video from Global TV Halifax, the presenter claims that Nova Scotia is the only province in the nation to celebrate National Farmers' Market Week.  I didn't check every province but with my limited french, I did not find a semaine de marché  de producteurs in Quebec.  Ontario does seem to have missed the boat,  despite having Farmers' Market Ontario, the official website of Ontario Farmers' Markets for managers, vendors and shoppers.  Nothing from the prairies.  Yellowknife, NWT, is just announcing they will have a farmers' market for the first year since the 90's so that is something to celebrate even without a dedicated week.  And BC... well, let's just say that BC tops the list for parochialism in Canadian Farmers' Market Week.  Here in BC, we will celebrate our farmers with a Farmers Appreciation Week, September 8-15th.  So much for blogging national events - I think I'll just go local. 

The Gabriola Farmers' Market has been running for over twenty years.  It is hosted by the Gabriola Island Agricultural Association and runs from the May long weekend (For our American readers - that's Victoria Day, the celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday ) until Thanksgiving (remember, third weekend in October so it isn't too dark yet).  Everything sold at the market must be made or grown on Gabriola island - and the variety is great.  You can pick up fresh baked goods, locally grown fruits and vegetables and arts and crafts.   There are always a few buskers, and often young musicians from the island perform.

Here is a short video tour of the farmer's market from a few years back (the kids are all quite a bit bigger now!) from GabriolaGeorgiaStraitCam



How did you celebrate National Farmers' market week?  Send us some photos on our Facebook page.  We would love to see what is available at your local market.  Sweet potatoes are hard to grow here and I haven't seen any at the market yet.


Clever Trevor of the Funky Bowler Farm Stand and Alexis Boulton of Somerset Farms at the Gabriola Island Farmers' Market


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