Why mess with success?
That appears to be the guiding principle of Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market (SSFM) as it returns for its second year early next month.
“It’s going to be quite similar,” said Shawn Newby, chair. The market returns to Braefoot Park for eight Sundays, starting July 8 and finishing Aug. 26, running from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. when in session.
The market first opened its gates July 2, 2017 after Saanich had approved the enterprise following at least two years of planning. Its opening date exceeded expectations according to organizers and subsequent dates confirmed public demand for a farmer’s market in Saanich, a late-comer among local communities hosting such commercial forums.
Newby said the market gives locals a chance to support local vendors and musicians. “It’s a great way to…grab fresh vegetables, and spend time with your family that is right in Saanich,” he said. “Until last year, there was nothing like it in Saanich.”
This fact has struck many as ironic because Saanich has had a long history of farming, and local food security looms in the background.
For Vancouver Island to have any kind of security, locals need to support those, who farm for a living, said John Schmuck, a board member for the market. “More than 90 per cent of what we consume comes off-island,” he said.
Looking at specifics heading into the second year of the market, Newby said about 25 vendors will offer their wares, with the mix of vendors largely remaining the same. But some changes will appear.
“We got some more breweries and wineries,” said Newby. Specifically, their numbers will go from two to four as Victoria Caledonian Distillery and Twa Dogs Brewery, and Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse join Silverside Winery and De Vine Vineyards in selling alcoholic products at the market.
Newby notes though that this change was not deliberate. “The tender for vendors was put out and the mix came back as it did,” he said. “We [also] have a few more farmers and a few more artisans.” They include Gobind Farms, a large local farm.
Newby also promises logistical improvements.
“We have got a lot of the [minor] bugs worked out, regarding electricity [for the vendors], and traffic flow, and parking,” he said. “Those bugs are worked out, and so we are going to be able to hit the ground running this year.”
Newby said holding the market inside Braefoot Park’s lacrosse box worked well. “It keeps people contained, and kids safe,” he said. “There is no worry about traffic on McKenzie Avenue at that point, because you are inside the lacrosse box.”
This year’s edition of the market will also offer local musicians a chance to perform.“There are always two musical acts every market,” said Newby. “That is really exciting, and people really enjoy having the background music.”
The market currently operates on the basis of a temporary use permit that Saanich issued last year. While it is valid for two more years, organizers are already looking beyond this period, with plans to re-apply for one-time extension. “We want to keep this going, and we just hope it gets bigger and better every year,” he said.
“We think the location is great, and the vendors who came last year, really enjoyed the first year.”