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White Rock Farmers’ Market back ‘bigger and better than ever’

Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition returns minus restrictions
The White Rock Farmers’ Market, seen here under pandemic restrictions last year, will return to business as usual when it opens on Sunday, April 24. (File photo)

The White Rock Farmers’ Market opens for the 2022 season on April 24 – and this year, it’s really open.

Market president Kirsten Brolin and manager Patti Oldfield said that, for customers and vendors alike, the market – on the Miramar Village Plaza between Russell Avenue and Thrift Avenue (at Johnston Road) every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – is going back to the way it was before COVID-19 measures were put in place in early 2020.

“It’s bigger and better than ever,” Oldfield said, noting the market will run until Oct. 16.

This year, the market’s 23rd, it’ll be a renewed chance to meet, socialize and browse, they promised – not to mention an opportunity to purchase fresh and healthy locally-sourced produce, tempting and intriguing food products and novel craft items.

“All the restrictions have been lifted,” Brolin said. “Now everybody’s allowed to be there (for a while, until the restriction was removed last year, it had to be a food-only market, without any arts or crafts element).

“Now even sampling is allowed – that’s a big one for my business,” she added. (Her Bee Kind Honey products – unusual artisan flower-scented and flower-flavoured honeys – are reliant on taste tests to help win over new customers).

Not that there isn’t still a raised level of awareness of pandemic precautions, Oldfield said.

“We’ll have antibacterial sprays available and the vendors will all have hand sanitizers,” she added.

But, other than that, about the only hold-over from pandemic restrictions will be directed foot traffic, she said – it’s been found that it is more effective in moving potential customers around to every part of the market.

“It was really liked by the vendors,” Oldfield said. “People followed the flow of the traffic and got to see every vendor.”

READ ALSO: White Rock Farmers Market hot on ‘the trail’

Other popular elements – including live entertainment and food trucks – will also be part of the mix, Brolin and Oldfield said.

“Every weekend there’s a musical entertainer,” Oldfield said. “We’re booked solid to the last day, with people like Jana Seale, Token Rhyme and Mike Sheeshka.”

“And we have two food trucks this year – ‘Fijian Fusion’ and ‘Primo’s Street Eats’,” Brolin added.

On the artistic side, there will be sculptors, jewelers and glass-blowers represented, while local painter Bryce Willushaw – a Miramar resident – will be drawing and painting plein air.

Other items will range from skin care products to dog treats and cookies and even locally produced wines and distilled liquors, Brolin and Oldfield said.

Also indicative of the health of the market this year is that each week there will be 91 stalls – and most of the spots are booked already by vendors jostling to be part of the White Rock experience.

“It’s one of the largest markets – if not the largest – in the Lower Mainland,” Brolin said, adding that White Rock also benefits from additional marketing as a member of the B.C. Farmers’ Market Association.

“The word is getting out that we’re one of the best farmers’ markets around.”

“We had 170 vendors apply in one month alone,” said Oldfield. “That’s as many as we had all year last year.”

“We will also have a lot of visitors coming up from the States now that the border restrictions have been lifted,” Brolin said.

“White Rock is a big deal for a lot of people – we average a couple of thousand visitors every market day.”

Of immeasurable value, Oldfield and Brolin said is the support the market receives from the City of White Rock and the Miramar strata council – both of whom view it as an asset to the community.

“We absolutely need that, particularly since we close down Russell Avenue every Sunday,” Oldfield said.

“It’s been a challenging two years, but the vendors are all happy, and we have a full board of directors – a combination of vendors and people from the community. It’s a nice mix.”

Even while it has been the source of individual tragedies and business failures, and caused chaos for so many community activities, in one regard the pandemic has actually helped the market, Brolin pointed out.

“COVID brought everybody’s attention to food security,” she said.

“Now more and more people are wanting to support local farms and businesses and have quality products.”

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Fresh locally-sourced produce is one of the appeals of the White Rock Farmers’ Market. (File photo)

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