At the Qualicum Farmers Market, it’s all good

Gourmet gluten-free pastries are on offer at the market, thanks to From The Hearth Artisan Bakery

The beauty of farmers markets is that they all have their own style and atmosphere, and the one in Qualicum Beach is certainly no exception in that respect. While not as large as some of the other markets on the Island, Qualicum’s vendors offer up an eclectic assortment of crafts, produce, preserves, meat and seafood products, baking, live music and childrens’ activities. It’s a humming little place, even when the winter and early spring indoor markets are running.  There is substantial local support for the market throughout the year; when the tourist season hits the tempo kicks up a notch.

The indoor market is a little smaller, but you can still find all sorts of great plant material

            While Qualicum Beach is relatively small in terms of population (8,000 residents), the surrounding outlying areas provide venues for the production of a rich diversity of market-bound goods. Everything at the market must be grown, made or baked by the vendors. More than 30 sellers set up their stalls each Saturday morning during the outdoor season, running from the first Saturday in May to the first weekend in October, which marks the Canadian Thanksgiving.  The winter and spring indoor markets tend to have fewer vendors, but are nonetheless a magnet for those who buy in to the ‘fresh, local’ mantra.           

Fresh cut flowers are a favourite of many market patrons

The range of fresh produce offered at the Qualicum Beach market is vast; growers in the area seem to be always trying something new.  A couple of years ago when I couldn’t find snow peas at a single stall I commented on it to one of the vendors.  The next season he showed up with not only snow peas, but sugar snaps – bonus for me, and bonus for him – he sells out at every market he offers them at now. Which, of course, is one of the beauties of purchasing at any farmers market – you get to talk to the folks who actually produce your food and often, with a little patience, you get what you want.

            There are some really lovely crafts offered at this market, suitable for both gift-giving and home décor.  Garden art and furniture of the highest quality proliferate. There is wearable art too, of every ilk, and jewellery, and hand-made soaps…the list is extensive.

Jams and jellies of every description are a popular item

            If you are looking for free-range pork, chicken and eggs or seafood you can find it at this market.  Ravenstone Farm proffers a tasty line of artisan sausages.  There is beautiful artisan bread, to-die-for traditional British baking at the Island Highlander booth and the best biscotti anywhere, ever, produced by Mirella Trozzo of Biscotti di Notte. Elsa Heeps of From The Hearth Artisan Bakery specializes in gourmet, gluten-free pastries; there are bountiful bouquets to grace your home, award-winning cheeses, organic, fair-trade coffee beans, hand-made pasta, bedding plants and perennials…as the season progresses so do the offerings, until the markets at the height of summer explode with colour and  flavour.  Add to that the live entertainment, and you have the perfect way to kick off your weekend.           

A sweet treat - Bakewell Tart from Island Highlander

The Qualicum Beach Farmer’s Market operates indoors during the winter and spring months at the local community hall at 644 Memorial Avenue, at the corner of Memorial Avenue and Veterans Way. At the beginning of May vendors move outdoors and set up along the entire stretch of Veterans Way, where they remain until early October.  The indoor market operates from 9 a.m.–noon each Saturday; the outdoor events get under way at 8:30 a.m. and run until noon.

            For further information online: www.qbfarmersmarket.com

           GPS co-ordinates are: Lat. 49.3484300997305 

                                                  Long. -124.44132328033447

                                                N 49 20.906  W 124 26.479

                                               

           

Shirley

About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers.
In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.

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