The Merville Organics booth is always a popular stop at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market. Photo via Facebook

The Merville Organics booth is always a popular stop at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market. Photo via Facebook

Farmers market COVID restrictions against non-food vendors lifted

Artisans and florists will once again be allowed to sell at B.C. Farmers’ Markets, as the B.C. government has lifted restrictions that were in place preventing them from attending.

On Dec. 2, the province put a temporary halt to non-food items being sold at farmers markets in B.C. On Friday, March 19, the government announced that all artisans would be allowed to sell at markets province-wide, effective immediately.

RELATED: Non-food vendors ‘destroyed’ by banishment from B.C. farmers’ markets

The lifting of this restriction is welcome news for Twila Skinner, general manager of the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market (CVFM).

“It was good to get the news,” she said. “We are excited. It means a lot to be able to have these vendors back… we are more of a market now. It just didn’t make sense that you could go to the grocery store and get flowers, or a cutting board, but you can’t get that at the farmers market. That was one of our big beefs. So we are glad that has changed, because seedlings and seeds are coming out now, and we couldn’t even sell those until Friday.”

Skinner said she received the news too late to reach out to any additional vendors for last week’s market, but is hopeful there will be more vendors at this week’s market – the last one of the season at Native Sons Hall.

It’s also welcome news for existing vendors, who can now sell a wider variety of products.

“We have some vendors, like alcohol vendors, who can now sell their hand sanitizers, and farmers that can sell other value-added products, like beeswax, and stuff like that, which was not permitted because of that order,” said Skinner. “So although the news came too late to have any other vendors come in to last week’s (March 20) market, we did have some existing vendors that were able to add products on Saturday.”

Candice Woloshyn, who owns Dirty Girl Flowers, said the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We are so happy,” she said. “The timing could not be better. We’ve got so many spring bulbs. We’ve got 3,000 narcissi that are starting to poke their heads up. They’ll be ready in another two to three weeks, and the tulips are right on their heels.

“It’s a huge relief because a lot of the spring crops are things that we had to put money up for back in the fall. Those spring bulbs and tubers are all planted back in October and such, so the money was put out for them a long time ago. So it’s nice to know we are going to be able to sell those crops.”

The news is also particularly timely for the CVFM, as it will be moving to its spring/summer outdoor location at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds for the April 3 weekend.

“One thing that should be noted, we are still going to be asking customers to wear their masks,” Skinner said of the new locale. “I know that it’s outside… but it is just an added level of protection, that will keep everyone safe. It is required of the vendors – it says in the order that vendors have to wear them – but we are going to continue to ask our customers to wear masks as well.”

Skinner said that the news will also help the Downtown Courtenay Summer Street Market.

“We will still be heavily modified – we won’t be able to have the entertainment that we would normally have – but we should be able to have some of the artisans back, so that will be good.”
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