The upcoming Farmers’ Market differs from the summer season, but provides an equally valuable way to fill your fridge and pantry.
It’s a long and lazy Saturday. The kids are sleeping off another busy week of school. Looking out the window, you decide that you don’t need to rake the leaves up just yet. You’re having friends for dinner, but that’s hours away. Might as well get some more coffee and enjoy the morning, so you fill your travel mug and head on down to the Farmers’ Market. That’s right—during the fall.
The three summer Farmers’ Markets have been popular warm-weather events in the Comox Valley since the spring of 1992, and have become weekly one-stop shops for fresh, local produce, meats, and small batch products.
With the end of the summer and the start of the cooler (and wetter) fall season, the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market (CVFM) condenses down into a single weekly event, held indoors at the Native Sons Hall in downtown Courtenay. It can still be your one-stop shop; with up to 65 vendors selling exclusively locally grown, raised and produced foods, the fall markets are every bit a gastronomic extravaganza as the summer markets.
With the increasing prevalence of greenhouses and indoor growing in the Comox Valley, there are only a few weeks out of the year that one can’t find fresh (as in picked that morning) produce. Farmers are now extending their growing season long after the warm weather leaves; bags of lettuce, micro greens, and herbs are still being sold well into the winter months.
CVFM General Manager Twila Skinner is trying to increase this awareness by creating an “online shopping list” for people who want to plan their week around the foods on offer. “Each week, vendors sign up and provide me with their fresh product list. From that, I create a shopping list of what will be available and post it on Facebook.” This way, Twila hopes to let people know that the fall market isn’t all “root vegetables and squash,” although there is a wide selection of both in addition to the aforementioned produce.
The fall market gives vendors a chance to meet and talk with potential customers. Britt and Kris Arbanas of Lost Savanna Farm find that the slower market allows them longer conversations where they can educate people on their farm and their techniques. “Explaining what intensive grazing is, why soil building is important, how pasture rotation works—that can be difficult with the number of people we see in the summer. In the fall, we actually have a chance to talk with people.”
The smaller crowds and cozier space combined with fewer tourists and large groups make for a slower, calmer atmosphere that pairs well with the cooler temperatures and less hectic days that we have here in the Comox Valley shoulder season. All vendors are able to attend every market, and you can always check to see who is there before you head down to hang out, finish that coffee, and pick up your fresh, local food for the week.
The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market runs Saturdays, 9am-1pm. Starting in mid-October they will be indoors at the Native Sons Hall, 360 Cliffe Ave, Courtenay. Find them online at cvfm.ca.