Special to The Record
Harvest season is here and the Comox Valley Farmers Market is celebrating!
This Saturday is Customer Appreciation Day, which means McClintock Farm will be bringing freshly picked corn on the cob to share with Market shoppers. The following week the appreciation flows back to the farmers as part of Farmer Appreciation Week with lots of ways for you to share your farmer love at the market.
The relationships that form at the market between vendors and customers are part of what make the market so exceptional. Everything that’s sold at the Comox Valley Farmers Market is grown or produced in the Comox or Strathcona Regional district. So when you buy your tomatoes from Steve at Rockbottom, or pork from Paul and Rose of Cottage Farm, you are helping preserve farmland and create sustainable food systems here in the Valley.
As record droughts reduce the farms in California to dust bowls, we are reminded just how important it is to have farmers producing food locally. Apart from the ecological and social benefits of shopping directly with farmers there are multiple health reasons too: When food is grown sustainably and harvested ripe, at most the day before market and at best, the morning of, the nutritional value in that food is tremendous, vastly different from anything shipped, or stored in a large supermarket.
While purchasing locally grown food is critical to supporting local farmers, the Farmers Market has introduced another way to support new farms, with the New Farmer Bursary. New farmers in the Comox Valley are invited to apply for the bursary this fall. Last year customers and fellow vendors raised $500 which was awarded to The Birds and the Beans, it helped them purchase a tractor and a greenhouse.
“Access to farm land is a challenge for young and new farmers,” says Moss Dance, who is a director of the farmers market board as well as a local farmer. “But start-up costs in the spring can also be a barrier to new farmers. In the late winter and early spring, seeds, inputs, tools, repairs and supplies need to be purchased. We hope this bursary will help a new farmer in the Comox Valley get started for the 2015 season.”
The Comox Valley Farmers Market runs from 9-12 every Saturday at the Exhibition Grounds and Wednesdays 9-1 on England Avenue in downtown Courtenay.
Vickey Brown is the executive director of the Comox Valley Farmers Market