Photo by Chung Chow
A mid-season move to Minoru Plaza has been a “game-changer” for the Kwantlen St. Market.
“It’s central with the library and pool, and we constantly hear from the public that this is wonderful,” said market manager Anne Janzen.
Operated by the Kwantlen Student Association, a non-profit society affiliated with Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the market is produced by Janzen’s Farm Fresh Events and is a member of the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets.
Launched in 2016 as Richmond’s first weekly farmers market, it features a cornucopia of local products grown and crafted by local farmers and artisans, highlighting the university’s own sustainable agriculture students.
A long, wet spring did nothing to help local farmers, or the market. Janzen said some early plantings simply rotted. But she says the farmers worked extra hard to try to recoup some of the losses during the summer.
“We did some polling asking what shoppers would like to see including hours, location and vendors, and based on that decided to go to city council and ask for some help,” she said. “We brainstormed with parks and recreation and they were so supportive (during the move to Minoru Plaza).”
Though this year’s market opening is rapidly coming to an end, Janzen is excited about the Halloween-themed wind-up.
From noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, families are encouraged to bring their kids in costume for a few treats, pick up a heirloom pumpkin, and enjoy the best of the last of the harvest season.
Encouraged about the market’s future, Janzen is heartened by the opportunity to showcase the best of what Richmond has to offer. And she hopes more local community groups and small start-up businesses will also look to the market to share their wares.
“Low-risk foods can be made at home, and participating at a farmer’s market can be an economically-attainable way to launch a small business,” she said.
Janzen said she delights in working with students who come to her with ideas, and especially proud to see them come to fruition.
For the public, shopping at the market can not only help save money but be an educational experience. Recently, for example, Janzen observed some people asking about how to cook certain types of vegetables or learning what a rutabaga or parsnip is.
The Kwantlen St. Farmers Market also provides a unique opportunity for shoppers to engage with student farmers learning ecologically-sound organic farming practices through Kwantlen’s sustainable agriculture and farm schools in Richmond and Delta. The students are learning about crop planning and growing, owning a farm business, preparing for and working at farmers market—all skills that will enable them to successfully run a farm business upon graduation. Purchases at the market directly help these students learn about farming and support their program.