Moss Street Market Gears Up for Another Season

photo credit: Gary Hynes

When the bright pink cherry blossoms start to bud I know that Market Season is just around the corner.  Farmers all around the island are busy getting ready to share their array of produce with an anticipating public.  We are a lucky population here in Victoria, benefitting from a small but highly passionate and organized local organic farming community. These capable farmers have been gathering up their ripe pickings in the wee hours of their Saturday summer mornings to bring locally grown vegetables and fruit to Sir James Douglas Public School in Fairfield on the corner of Moss and Fairfield street in Victoria.

The Moss Street Market is the longest running and most frequented farmers market in Victoria, celebrating its nineteenth year this summer.  What started out as a small group of local farmers gathering to sell summer produce has evolved to become a regular weekend destination offering a celebration of food, music, arts and crafts and local community potential. This is due in large part to the Fairfield community itself, which, from its first inception nineteen years ago, supported local farmers to create a non-profit society where small scale suppliers and local buyers could come together.

Farmers arrive and unload their trucks early, presenting the finest weekly delights from the farm on tables rich with colour and freshness. This is an inspiring, safe place, filled with happy faces.  Thinking about it evokes memories of summers past:  I’m eating the season’s first bag of sweet snap peas from Mary-Alice Johnson (ALM Organic Farms) out of a paper bag as I venture over to a table of sprouts. I decide to try peanut sprouts for the first time happily discovering yet another fresh crunchy vegetable for my summer table. I’ve heard there might be Saltspring mushrooms and I’m on the hunt. I can smell fresh bread, pastries and coffee as I venture around to check out locally made dresses. Wild Pacific salmon and locally made sausages sizzle away on nearby barbeques competing with the sweet scent of fresh organic donuts.

I’ve already bought two bags of baby mixed greens from Tina Fraser Banes (Haliburton Farm) and I’m heading over to Rebecca Jehn, a farmer who makes the most amazing chutney and jams. The surrounding sounds speak of friendship and loyalty, patience and cooperation. Suppliers are here not simply to sell food or product, but to connect with their community through advocacy and education as they spend much of their time answering questions, showcasing varieties and sharing tastes. Buyers here are able to know where their goods are coming from and create a relationship with those who grew or made them. A place totally unique in its local flavour, Moss Street Market offers the continuation of a strong tradition of coming together around local food bringing the rural producers to city families.

On April 17th and 24th, half day markets begin and farmers get underway introducing their over wintered and early producing vegetable and fruit varieties.  Although smaller in scale, farmers are all in attendance showcasing foods like beets, kale, chard, onions, leeks, potatoes, garlic, carrots, turnip, asian greens, rutabaga, mustards and other greenhouse supported vegetables.  Early fruits like rhubarb are displayed as well as plant starts and seeds to get your own backyard veggie garden underway.  Shantael Sleight, the new Moss Street Market Coordinator describes these early shorter markets as a great time to connect with farmers, ask questions and get a good sense of what the different farms have to offer in the coming season.

As well as being able to pick up your week’s supply of fruit and veggies, the full markets begin Saturday, May 1st, and offer live music, Salt Spring coffee, pastries and fresh breads, organic donuts, Wild Pacific salmon burgers, Galloping Goose Sausage on a bun, popsicles, samosas and an array of clothing, pottery, jewelry and locally-made products by small scale business owners.  Ride your bike or walk with friends this summer from 10am-2pm as the Moss Street Market is the only place to be on Saturdays. I’ll see you there.

Moss Street Market

Corner of Moss St. and Fairfield St., Victoria

April 24th: 10 am-12 pm

May – October 10 am- 2pm

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