Despite competition from other events, such as the Saanich Strawberry Festival and Victoria Pride Parade, the Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market swung open its gates for its second year with a strong showing.
According to organizers, 527 people walked through the doors of the inaugural 2018 market. With Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell serving as dignitary, the market opened at 10 a.m. and closed at 2 p.m. in the Lacrosse box at Braefoot Park.
Andrea Dorge and Patrick Gibson were among the early afternoon visitors. The couple drove in from Langford to check out the farmer’s market, their second in as many days after they had visited Langford’s market.
A gardener herself, Dorge said the couple came to shop for fresh, local produce to support local farmer and meet people in the community with like-minded interests. Recent arrivals in the region, the couple is also using their shopping trips to learn more about their new home and its people.
“We are hoping to go on a tour around [the region], and just meet new people,” she said. “We love through Saanich area, stopping at the farm-stands,” added Gibson. “We are just trying to support local business.”
Both grew up in areas not necessarily associated with produce farming — she in Kenora, Ont., he in Edmonton, AB. But the couple’s support for farmers’ markets is not just a matter of enjoying locally grown produce. It is also a political statement. “You are putting your money, where it counts,” he said. “I have a choice everyday. I don’t have to vote. I vote with where I put my money.”
Such statements sound like music to the ears of Doug Eng of Glanford Greenhouses, who is returning for the second year, because he believes in the importance of the concept.
Receipts from sales at the market cover at the very least labour costs, and being part of market on Sunday raises his overall profile.
“This one is particularly good for us, because the customers find out about us, and then during the week, when the market is not on, they will come to our farm to get the same stuff,” said Eng, who works about three different markets (including Saanich) in the region over the course of the week.
If the Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market is a home game for Eng, Duncan Reimer of Boughneath Farm is using the market to raise the company’s regional profile as a supplier of various organic beef and poultry products.
“It was a really good market last year, so we figured it would be worth doing it again,” he said.
Like other vendors, Boughneath Farm hits markets across the region.
“We are more well-known in the other markets, but we are building our customer base here,” he said. “Probably 20 per cent of our customers are from Saanich.”
If Reimer has some familiarity with the market, Sunday’s opening was a revelation for Seanna Oppertshauser, who was running the Gobind Farms. While her employer is among the returning vendor, Sunday’s opening was the first opportunity for Oppertshauser to experience the market.
“It’s a cute little environment,” she said. “You get that close feel. It feels good that you are giving good food to the community.”