My Sunday morning farmers market shop

IMG_8305It’s not often enough that something you absolutely love also happens to be good for you, your community and the planet. For me, that “thing” is shopping at the farmers market.

It’s become a ritual in our home. Every Sunday morning, my husband and I grab our shopping bags and head out to the Coquitlam Farmers Market to get a week’s supply of the freshest fruits, vegetables, bread, honey and eggs.

For those of you who read my posts or follow along on social media, you’ve probably noticed I’m a big advocate for shopping at the farmers market. Why again? Here’s a recap…

  • eating locally-produced foods are higher in nutrients than those that have travelled many miles before landing on your plate
  • lowering your food miles also means decreasing your carbon footprint
  • eating in season gives your body the particular nutrients it needs for specific times of the year
  • small farmers usually tend more gently to their soils and plant more varieties, which yields more nutritious foods and nourishes the soil for years to come
  • small farmers tend to be organic (even when not certified) and GMO-free, or at least use less sprays so we’re not ingesting harmful toxins into our body
  • supporting local farmers means putting money back into your own community, and voting for the kind of food you want available
  • eating in season is cheaper than buying out-of-season and exotic produce

When the Coquitlam Farmers Market manager approached me to write an article about my experiences shopping at the market, I immediately jumped on it! This is, after all, my happy place.

And so, here it is…

Never a chore, and always a pleasure is our experience shopping at the market. No matter what frame of mind I enter in, I immediately melt into the present moment as we saunter through the market (usually to some beautiful tune from a musician playing nearby) to find the goods we’re going to purchase for the week.

It’s been several years now and so we’ve developed a bit of a routine. We circle the market first to check out any new vendors, and then head to our favourites for the usual.

Our first stop is always the same – return our empty egg carton to Rockweld Farm and purchase another dozen of their SPCA-certified eggs. On this particular shop, we puttered around some of the vendors for longer to ask them a few questions.

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Jean of Rockweld Farm: The sense of community. There’s a demographic here of like-minded people who care about local, sustainable and ethical issues.

We then head over to Floralia Growers to purchase a big bag of tomatoes for a large pot of lentil stew that’ll last us all week. Parveen, the farmer behind Floralia, was raised on a farm but left to become an accountant, and eventually returned to her roots.

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Parveen: It energizes me. The business side of farming can bring you down – when crops fail or don’t meet the right specifications. Coming to the market motivates you.

What’s your favourite thing about being a farmer?

Parveen: Being outside in nature. I’m not a desk person.

Parveen of Floralia Growers
Ana and Chris of Ripple Creek Farm

Next stop is a visit to Chris and Ana of Ripple Creek Farms for kale, baby greens, potatoes and onions. A lot of love and care goes into their work – they even pre-wash all of their greens for their customers.

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Chris: Seeing all the regular customers.

What’s your favourite thing about being a farmer?

Chris: Being my own boss, working outside and watching stuff grow.

We then pop over to Forstbauer Farm next door to pick up carrots, beets, zucchini and cucumbers. It’s always a family affair under the Forstbauer tent with many of their children helping out at the till.

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Lindsey: Talking to the customers and getting to see where the food is going.

What’s your favourite thing about being a farmer?

Lindsey: The markets. It’s our day off. A day out in the world.

Lindsey and Niklaus of Forstbauer Farm
Jasbir of Mandair Farms

From here, we’ll head over to Mandair Farms for some berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, whatever’s in season). Owner, Jasbir, is also known for the aromatic pakoras she makes on-site. (You’ll often see line-ups for them.)

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Jasbir: The people.

What’s your favourite thing about being a farmer?

Jasbir: I love to feed people so growing food is in my blood. I talk to the plants and tell them they’re beautiful. It’s like visiting God. You don’t have to go to the temple.

Now it’s time to visit Fe of Never Say Die Nursery next door. Always bubbly and full of compliments, be sure to visit Fe if you ever need a pick-me-up! We also get our bell peppers, garlic, squash and more greens from her.

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Fe: The people. I love people that treat food with respect and appreciate what we’re doing. People appreciate the nutritious value.

What’s your favourite thing about being a farmer?

Fe: Being a farmer is hard but I just love it. I seed by hand. You can watch them blossom. It’s like they’re dancing. It’s very rewarding.

Fe of Never Say Die Nursery
Ken of Red Barn Plants and Produce

And now for our last stop, we head over to Red Barn Plants and Produce to pick up some squash, hot peppers and apples, AND locally-grown ginger and sweet potatoes! Really. They go quickly so make note of the time of year they become available (and, join their e-newsletter list for up-to-date news!).

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Ken: The interaction with the shoppers is the best. Being able to discuss vegetables and fruit make it enjoyable. Plus the simple fact that shoppers at the Coquitlam market are there to buy, and try new things like our wonderful sweet potatoes.

What’s your favourite thing about being a farmer?

Ken: Such a simple question yet so hard to answer. I enjoy the fast and slow pace of farming. The puttering and the rushing. The interaction yet the solitude. Simply the life.

IMG_7065By this point we’ve got our staples and it’s time to leave the market. But wait. Just one more thing, I think, and race through all the things we didn’t buy and justify just one more purchase. Anything to stay in the energy of the market. (I dunno what it is – perhaps all the fresh produce and buzzing people gives you a high?)

Another favourite thing about the market (yes, I have many) is that aside from the usual, you can also treat yourself and others to special items like:

  • homemade soaps and beauty products
  • pastries and pies from Gabi and Jules (and gluten-free options like Delish and vegan ones like Samaya Delights)
  • beer, ciders, liquors and wines
  • ceramics
  • seasonal flowers and plants
  • popcorn

This makes the market the perfect place to pick up a host/hostess gift, or a little extra something for yourself once in awhile.

Blooming Meadows is one of the florists that’s often at the market. I chatted with Lauren who was full of light when she talked about her and her sister’s business. They grow the flowers on her sister’s farm in Pitt Meadows and then put together stunning floral arrangements that are based on what’s available seasonally.

And Lauren’s favourite thing about the market?

Lauren: The vibrancy, the compliments, the people.

Nena of West Coast Cider

There’s also West Coast Cider who produce the Sunset and Sunrise ciders (one’s a little dry, the other a little sweet, both delicious) and have these adorable stubbies available to purchase in packs of four.

What’s your favourite thing about the market?

Nena: I enjoy engaging with all the people – and seeing people try it and like it.

And there you go – a typical visit to the Coquitlam Farmers Market with Natasha and Josh. This is a taste of a world that I crave more of, and a hope for the kind of world I want to live in. There’s this quote by food advocate, Anna Lappe:

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

Farmers markets make it possible for us to cast a vote for the kind of food we want – for those who grow it and for the care in which it’s grown. It is a privilege to be able to shop at the market, one that should be more widely available and accessible by everyone. At the market, you become more closely tied to the food that you are going to eat. Which makes the food go down better. Truly.

IMG_8274The joy of a market shop doesn’t end when you leave the market. It continues for the rest of the week, every time you open the fridge to pluck those foods and prepare them to nourish yourself, or your loved ones, too. Your body will thank you for it – and our planet will eventually, too.

The harvest season may be coming to a close but most markets are still open this weekend and the next, and then the winter markets will take over until the Spring!

To find a farmers market closest to you visit the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets here.

For those of you in the Tri-Cities, the Coquitlam Farmers Market ends on October 29, and then will move over to the Port Moody Recreation Complex.

8 thoughts on “My Sunday morning farmers market shop

  1. Thanks for including Forstbauer Farm! It was fun to participate and put names to the faces of some of our loyal customers 🙂

  2. Delish is the gluten-free vendor at the Coquitlam Farmer’s Market, although Gabi & Jules deserve recognition for their amazing baked goods. Great article!

    1. Thank you so much for mentioning this Julie, I’ve made the correction! Clearly I need to get more sweets so I get my facts straight :} No seriously, thanks very much for letting me know.

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