As someone who spent a significant amount of time on the east coast of Canada, I still find myself enthralled by the farmers market season here in Vancouver. Long by comparison, I’ve only recently begun to realize how many hidden gems there are throughout the city at this time of year. More than a place to pick up food, markets have always been a hub for the community. This is a place where neighbours meet, ideas are exchanged, kids learn about how the food they eat is grown, and much more.
For those who have decided to forego wheels, great city markets can also factor into what area of the city is most desirable to live in. A client of mine who sold her car about a year or so back, cited the West End Farmers Market across from Nelson Park every Saturday morning as being one of the reasons she decided to stay in the west end. This got me thinking: How, if at all, are markets like this related to the areas we find desirable, and do they affect our home’s worth?
BEST FARMERS MARKETS IN VANCITY
To begin with, I decided to have a look at some of my fave’s here in Vancity. Located at the Main St. – Science World Skytrain Station, the Main Street Station Market is definitely a favourite amongst my Main Street friends. Laid back and heavy on the produce, this Wednesday market is a great place to refill a slowly dwindling fridge. Its mid-week schedule also means it’s usually not too crowded, and there’s a convenient pick-up station for the days you go greens crazy.
On Sundays the Farmers Market of choice is located in Kits and tends to be a family affair where local musicians belt out tunes in the community centre parking lot. A bit of a trek for those of us downtowners who tend not to venture south of Broadway, the Nat Bailey Farmers Market is definitely worth the trip. And for those who are local to the area, this market is really a gem for a neighbourhood that doesn’t have a ton of options for fresh produce. Open year-round, they have an incredible selection of food trucks and vendors selling everything from organic coffee to homemade biscuits.
What list wouldn’t be complete with featuring a market from The Drive? Trout Lake Farmers Market is a fabulous example of what you can do if you set your mind to something. Started just over 20 years ago now, this once tiny circle of locals has grown into a serious celebration of all things fresh and tasty. Another favourite of mine is the Oak Street Farmers Market, run by the Unitarian church and open every Wednesday from 3-7pm. And last but not least, the River District Farmers Market is a unique Saturday summer market set in a neighbourhood that is truly up-and-coming.
By far the biggest news on the market scene as of late is the opening of Vancouver’s Downtown Market at Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza. With its Grand Opening on June 2nd, the hardcore downtown folk have taken their rightful place amongst the other boroughs of Vancouver lucky enough to have one of these markets at hand.
DO FARMERS MARKETS AFFECT YOUR HOME’S WORTH?
Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a whole lot of data to consult in trying to answer this question. Okay, I couldn’t find any at all. But if I had to make an educated guess, I would say that, over time, there is certainly the potential for farmers markets to raise the value of a home.
I say this because local markets tend to benefit so many other avenues of daily life: their presence encourages closeness between neighbours and the presence of families, which is often enough of a deterrent itself for crime; local produce is often cheaper than store-bought foodstuffs; and they increase foot traffic, often in neighbourhoods or areas where there otherwise wouldn’t be. In BC, the Community Research Connections published a case study on the effects of farmers markets on local food systems almost ten years ago that cited some of the benefits of local farmers markets on their communities:
- Encourages food security
- Decreases “food miles” or distance traveled by food
- Supports local farmers
- Educates consumers on health
- Encourages a ‘community-health’ approach, not just the individual
- Increases the aesthetic beauty of a site
- Fosters accessibility and inclusion
- Consumer preferences are priorities
- Fosters partnerships and economic ties within the local community
That’s a pretty long list of positives from something as seemingly simple as a local market. When you consider the direct and indirect effects on personal income, job creation, and other local sectors like public transportation, farmers markets may have just as much to do with enhancing our properties as they do our health.
A FEW MORE GOODIES:
- Lonsdale Quay Artisan Farmers Market
- Mt Pleasant Farmers Market
- Hastings Park Winter Farmers Market every Sunday from November to May (and featuring a food truck extravaganza in February) round out the offerings for local produce.
- Plaza of Nations Night Market launches this summer on Pacific Boulevard every Saturday night. Watch out for food trucks and live music from local bands.
- UBC Farm Markets runs three weekly farm markets through the summer by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems on campus. Cash-only, BYO bags.