Farmers’ market a boon to community

Good support shown for new downtown 100 Mile House location

Luz Aliaga

Luz Aliaga

South Cariboo Farmers’ Market Society board representatives Karen Greenwood and Tina Johnson recently gave a presentation to District of 100 Mile House council on the results of the first season at its downtown location.

Greenwood said they told council that, overall, they were “quite pleased” with the new locale.

“The vendors were generally very happy. We also had this new market coupon program this year, and it really boosted attendance.”

There seemed to be even more seniors than usual frequenting the market, she added.

“A lot of people just found it easier to get to downtown. We had a lot more customers supporting more growers.”

Many vendors had to drop out before the end of the season as they ran out of produce and products, Greenwood noted.

The booth of her own farming group, Community Enhancement for Economic Diversification Society (C.E.E.D.S.), saw increased sales this season and sold out most days, she said.

“So, the demand is really there, more than ever.”

The Circle H Ranch booth grilling fresh, local beef hamburgers was “a big hit,” Greenwood explained, and along with Family Farm Natural Meats serving homemade borscht soup, it really boosted overall lunch hour sales.

She said one nearby business noted increased business on market days, and another expressed interest in being more involved.

The board, therefore, asked council to consider extending the market – which runs about halfway along Third Street – all the way down to Cedar Avenue.

Councillor Dave Mingo said it was “definitely a good summer” and “great” to have the market on Birch Avenue.

“Everyone I talked to was happy it was there. From the vendors, the shoppers and the area merchants. The negative comments were very minor, but there were so many positive comments.”

He added the idea for extending the market’s street use must be further examined by council and staff for aspects, such as emergency services access, before any decision will be made.

“It made our town very warm and welcoming having the farmers’ market downtown, and it really improved upon our community.”

Greenwood said various customers also indicated they preferred the central Birch Avenue location to the previous spot on Highway 97.

“It just seemed more fun to have it downtown. There was a nicer feeling about it and there were several people who commented that it felt like a safer environment for kids, rather than being closer to the highway.”

Market management was approached by other groups to consider partnering on events next year, she added.

The community hall’s management expressed satisfaction with the arrangement, Greenwood said, and its brick walkways and rented washrooms worked well for both market-goers and vendors.

Now, she explained the board is “seriously considering” holding a short-term winter market in the hall.

In his comments about the presentation, Mayor Mitch Campsall said it was “a good news story.”

Greenwood added the board much appreciates the regular publicity provided by the 100 Mile House Free Press and Wolf Radio, as well as the beautification efforts council made out front of the 100 Mile Community Hall, and its support in approving the new location.

“We were very happy with how everybody co-operated to make it happen.”

For information on participating in the markets, call Tina Johnson at 250-397-2547.