Delegation eats, learns at Meet the Maker luncheon

Sitting in the middle of the Wednesday farmers' market at Comox Bay Farm and eating food prepared with ingredients from the producers whose stalls surrounded them, local politicians and businesspeople learned more about the Comox Valley Farmers' Market.

MARKET MANAGER Vickey Brown leads a group

MARKET MANAGER Vickey Brown leads a group

Sitting in the middle of the Wednesday farmers’ market at Comox Bay Farm and eating food prepared with ingredients from the producers whose stalls surrounded them, local politicians and businesspeople learned more about the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.They learned specifically this week about the plan to build a permanent market.As part of the Comox Valley 30-Day Local Food Challenge, the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market and the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Maker luncheon.Market manager Vickey Brown led a tour around the market, introducing the group to the vendors and telling their stories.Comox Bay Farm, which people also know as the former Farquharson Farms, is the site of the proposed permanent farmers’ market, and Marla Limousin, vice-president of the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Association, shared information about the capital campaign and Growing a Legacy fundraising campaign for the permanent market.”We wanted to get you all on this site to visualize a permanent market here,” said Limousin, who thanked the elected officials for their support to get to this stage. “Thank you for supporting what has been a 12-year dream of the Valley, certainly the farmers.”Growing a Legacy is the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market’s community vision to create a place for agriculture based on the principles of sustainable development and provide a permanent home for the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market on the Comox Bay Farm site.Brown noted that one of the benefits of a permanent site would be that vendors who sell meat products wouldn’t have to haul their big freezers to the site each week.”If we had a permanent site where freezers were there, it would make their lives easier, and it would attract vendors and make it easier to get food to people,” she said.The Wednesday market moved to Comox Bay Farm this year, and it has been growing in popularity each week, according to Brown.About 600 to 700 people visit the market each Wednesday, and there were 28 vendors last week.”Before, our Wednesday market used to not be in the black, but this year is the first year it’s producing for us,” said Brown.There are upwards of 60 vendors at the Saturday market — sometimes as many as 80 — and the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Association has about 110 members.”The primary motive of the farmers’ market is to build farms and promote farm land in the Comox Valley,” said Brown. “We’re trying to grow farms so they can support families and support themselves.”Dianne Hawkins, CEO of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the importance of agriculture in the Valley.”I think it’s great we’re all here sitting on the old Farquharson Farms property, which I knew as a kid and my grandfather knew,” she said. “Agriculture is a huge part of this community and always has been.”My grandfather arrived here on a farm permit from England and started his first experience with a farm on Dove Creek. Agriculture has played a huge part in our economy and for B.C. in general. It’s a $35-billion industry in the province, and the Chamber has recognized that.”The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce recently worked with the B.C. Agriculture Council to put an agriculture policy forward at the B.C. Chamber policy sessions, and the Chamber is looking forward to meeting with Vancouver Island Chambers in September to develop more policies on behalf of the agricultural community, explained Hawkins.”It’s so great to collaborate with the 30-Day Local Food Challenge and the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, and we look forward to doing more of that in the future,” she said.To learn more about Growing a Legacy and options for supporting the campaign, visit www.comoxvalleyfarmersmarket.com.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com