March 26, 2018
With over 145 farmers’ markets in British Columbia, the local community is strongly supporting the ethos of buying locally-grown produce.
The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM), which represents over 145 farmers’ markets across the province, estimates most markets are started by community members wanting increased access to fresh, seasonal produce in their area.
Others are started by local farmers wanting to sell directly to community members.
By shopping at farmers’ markets, communities are not only supporting farmers and the local economy but are accessing the fresher, tastier produce grown here in BC.
Importantly, they are also able to build relationships with the people growing their food.
It is these things that attract chefs to their local markets according to Georgia Stanley, BCAFM Manager of Membership and Communications. “Many chefs are big proponents of sourcing locally and for that reason are big supporters of farmers’ markets.
“Chefs appreciate the unique freshness of the products at the market, as well as the diversity of interesting foods that can be found.
“Chefs also appreciate developing those connections with farmers, ranchers and growers of food – and these relationships inform and inspire how they use certain products, and how they tell the story of the foods on their menus.”
In early March, the BCAFM held their annual 2018 Conference featuring a workshop from the Island Chef’s Collaborative (ICCBC). The workshop explored the connection between farmers, markets and chefs, and was reported to be a popular session.
Ms. Stanley said chefs are a key customer group for farmers. “They play such an important role in showcasing local food and farmers, and their support goes a long way to contribute to the financial viability of small scale local farmers.
“Chefs can play a significant role in supporting local farmers and food producers by shifting their menus to be in line with what’s in season and what’s local,” Ms. Stanley said.
“Farmers’ markets are special in that you can have a conversation with the farmer, forager, rancher or fisher – you can ask questions about recipes, storage or how things are grown.
“There are also a number of chef’s groups doing great work in the province to collaborate with local farmers to plan, and plant ahead in order to maximize the amount of locally-sourced food on their menus.”
Many restaurants across BC are providing local, seasonal produce on their menus, and the Buy BC: EAT DRINK LOCAL program will highlight their fantastic work in the month of May.