This past weekend I had the great fortune of accompanying my friend Cheryll Forge on her Sunday morning ritual at the Vancouver Farmers Market in Kitsilano. The weather decided to cooperate and give us beautiful sunshine, so the place was packed. Armed with our market baskets, I was treated to the grand tour, complete with commentary, and introduced to some amazing merchants.
Here are your must-see tents at the Kitsilano farmers market (in no particular order):
1. Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm – The Forstbauer’s farm was founded in 1977 and is certified organic. They are in Chilliwack, BC, and offer produce, beef and eggs. The family consists of 12 beautiful children and headed by Mary and Hans Forstbauer. I got to chat with Forstbauer son Travis, who promptly let everyone on Twitter know what a great time I was having and how excited I was to find Italian zucchini. Because the market was so busy that day, the eggs that Cheryll and I were planning to buy from the Forstbauers were completely sold out!
Tip number 1: Go right at opening time, 10:00 a.m., or all the good stuff is gone!
2. Klippers Organic Acres – Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein’s farm was founded in 2001 and is also certified organic. They are in the Similkameen Valley and offer produce at the farmers markets and to local restaurants as well as dried fruit, jams, salsa, juice and nuts. Annamarie is actually one of the Forstbauer daughters! Not so coincidentally, the Forstbauer and Klippers tents are right next to each other at the market in Kits.
3. The Flour Peddler – While Cheryll went back to the car to get another basket to reload, I chatted with Josh at The Flour Peddler booth. He was so pleasant and friendly I had to introduce him to Cheryll. Located in the Sunshine Coast, this operation is not fully certified organic but sources fresh, whole grains that are grown in sustainable, organic methods. Some of their flours are indeed certified organic, some are transitional organic, some are naturally grown and some are regular. I bought some rye flour since Coach Krista encourages rye as a better choice for baked goods. Cheryll ended up buying a few bags of flour as well. Both our purchases were flours that were ground and packaged the day before. Talk about fresh!
4. Golden West Farms – Golden West was founded in 1983 and transitioned to organic in 2003. They are located in Summerland, BC, and offer produce, dried apples and apple juice.
5. Blue Comet Seafoods – The backbone of Blue Comet is a father-son team who source their wild-caught seafood in the waters of the BC islands. Blue Comet is Ocean Wise approved, which means they are a business that the Vancouver Aquarium recommends as an ocean-friendly seafood choice. They offer wild salmon, albacore tuna, lingcod, halibut and sablefish as well as BC spot prawns. I ended up treating myself to maple salmon, which isn’t as chewy and sweet as salmon candy. It comes in moist chunks that have just the right amount of sweetness. I eat it like candy. They also offer several kinds of salmon, including sockeye, pink, chum and chinook.
Tip number 2: although Blue Comet will wrap your purchases in newspaper for you, it’s still better to buy any frozen items last, especially on a hot summer day. Then you can simply set the parcel in between or on top of produce to keep everything cool during the car ride home.
Tip number 3: Cheryll pointed out to me that not all of the merchants at the farmers markets are certified organic. Some merchants, though not certified, do use organic methods. Some are not organic at all. This is important to note because some people just automatically assume that all the merchants are organic, so they don’t ask that question. I found all the merchants to be upfront about their products and knowledgeable and friendly, so don’t be afraid to chit chat and get to know them.
Final tip of the day:
Bring a Darn Cute Basket with you instead of flimsy canvas/cotton bags to put your produce in. The basket I bought from Cheryll keeps my more delicate items from getting squished by the sides of a bag being pulled up and also allows stuff to remain upright, like a container of blueberries. The baskets are also collapsible for easy storage, come in large and small sizes and are a cinch to wipe clean. Plus, it’s YOUR basket, so you know where it’s been. No more fresh veggies and fruit touching dirty store baskets that thousands of people have been handling, sneezing or coughing on. Cheryll likes to keep several in the car so they’re ready whenever you find yourself needing to do a quick shop. Having several baskets to choose from also allows you to colour coordinate with your outfit or to interchange to suit your mood. Cheryll had on a great lime green top and white capris with her turquoise basket, great summer colours.
I feel great supporting local business and families AND feeding my household and guests with local, sustainable food that has maximum nutrition. Why would I feed the people in my life chemicals and antibiotics and hormones when I have a choice not to? Farmers markets are simply a no-brainer for me. It’s fabulous thing.
The Kitsilano Farmers Market operates on Sunday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., May 22 to October 23 this year, and is located at 2690 Larch Street @ 10th Avenue, parking lot of the Kitsilano Community Centre.
Oh, and if I didn’t make it clear earlier, get there early. Just saying
Cheers and good eats,
***I love showcasing local food establishments, food products, food services and food businesses and the amazing people behind them. I’m always looking for people to feature in my articles, so don’t hesitate to contact me; I’d love to tell your story!***