For a few fleeting moments on Saturday, it felt like summer was on its way. The sun came out, the flowers were blooming and the cherry blossoms in Grizzly Plaza were illuminated.
And the farmers market was booming.
Saturday marked the launch of Revelstoke’s new farmers market on the 200 block of Mackenzie Avenue and it attracted a throng of people. We heard of 30 minute waits for Wild Flight Farms.
Meanwhile, the old market in Grizzly Plaza also had more vendors out after a couple of slow opening weeks. And while most people started at the new market, they slowly trickled across First Street to see what was new in Grizzly Plaza.
There was lots of familiar faces in both markets — Wild Flight, Terra Firma, Stoke Roasted, Nancy Geismar Pottery, Pam’s Kitchen, Kelly’s Baked in B.C. and, yes, Kurt’s Sausages – and many new ones. I spoke to a few of the new vendors. Here’s what I learned:
Forest McCormack is coming to Revelstoke from his family-owned farm in Burton, south of Nakusp.
“It’s pretty much what I always wanted to do,” he told me. “You’re your own boss and I don’t have a commute.”
Forest works the farm with his parents Lori and Ron. It has been with his family since 1903, when it started as an apple orchard. When the Okanagan put in irrigation, they were able to beat Arrow Lakes orchards to market, forcing the farm to shift focus, though four of the original apple trees are still standing.
Located east of Highway 6, the 480-acre farm was unaffected by the flooding of the Arrow Lake Reservoir in the 1960s.
Right now, they sell grass-fed beef, pasteurized pork, free-range chicken, eggs, and cutting boards made by Forest’s mother Lori.
Eventually they’ll also sell season vegetables, fruits and nuts.
“The only thing I don’t do is dairy,” Forest said.
Donna Williams grows small edibles such as micro greens, pea shoots and sun shoots, on her little organic garden in Gardom Lake, B.C.
“A few people suggested I come up here,” she said. “They say I have a one-of-a-kind item that’s not really supplied here.”
Williams has been farming for a few years and started selling at markets last year.
“I’ve been in horticulture most of my life,” she said.
In addition to the micro greens and shoots, Williams also plans to sell “hard to find” vegetables such as broccoli Natalino and lemon cucumbers — a yellow, tennis-ball sized cucumber (that doesn’t taste like lemon.)
“I want to provide high-quality food at affordable prices,” she said.
Good Little Tea Company
Sandy Doll can spend days tinkering with the spice and herb mixtures for her teas.
“Some come pretty quickly but I’ve been known to spend three or four days figuring out different ingredients,” she told me. “A half teaspoon of one ingredient can mean a big change on the flavour profile.”
Doll, from Salmon Arm, makes teas under the moniker Good Little Tea Company. She grows her own herbs for the teas and buys the spices she can’t grow herself.
“I was at a girlfriend’s house and she had lots of teas,” she said, when asked how she got started. “I started drinking them and thought I could make them myself.”
Doll sells 27 varieties of teas including ones called Thai ginger, Jamaican delight, minty detox, coco tropical and happy tummy — each featuring a bewildering mix of herbs and spices.
Her favourite is the balance tea, which contains cardamon, white tea, cloves, fennel, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cumin. “It’s an ayurvedic tea from India,” she said.
For 25 years, Jacquie Sharpe made ear flap hats for Mountain Equipment Coop.
A few years ago, she decided to switch tacks and started selling for herself under the name J.A.C. — Jacquie’s Apparel Company.
She specializes in slippers made from Manos wool — a fair trade recognized fabric made by a women’s cooperative in Uruguay.
“I believe in people being paid a fair wage,” she said. “Being self-employed, I understand how important it is.”
On top of slippers, Sharpe also sell mittens, hats and a full line of baby clothes.
“I do from babies to enormous feet,” she joked.