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Archive for the ‘Farmer's Markets’ Category

Granville Island Market - peppersTo Market, to market, and to market again. Now more than ever, Vancouver has an incredible selection of markets that range from selling fresh produce to art, crafts, knick knacks, antiques and secondhand goods. Whether you are local or visiting from out of town, there is something truly special to be said about Vancouver’s public markets. Not only do they give you a sense of community but they also provide you with a glimpse into the local culture and the people who make it come alive.  And for the savvy shopper, who enjoys the feast and the find, public markets are like banquet meals – there is incredible variety and people always want to go back for more.

Surprisingly, Vancouver didn’t always embrace the public market concept. Market Hall, the first public market of record, appeared in 1889 and lasted nine years. Although the building is long gone, its history is a key part of Vancouver. Having once housed pigs, cows, chickens and local produce, it also became Vancouver’s first city hall in 1897. The market continued in the basement but it appears that it was somewhat distracting to conduct municipal affairs and fancy galas with live stock wandering about. The market closed two years later and it wasn’t until another 80 years that another public market resurfaced.

With support from the federal government, False Creek was transformed from the industrial heart of the city into an urban oasis that mixed housing with public use. While preserving the industrial character of the buildings, Granville Island was designed to be a “key urban amenity.” Granville Island Market was opened in July, 1979 and continues to be one of the most popular and busiest public markets in Canada.

Today, Granville Island Public Market is alive with activity seven days a week from 7am to 9pm. Not only is it one of the best places in town to buy fresh produce, seafood, baked bread and meat, you can  also find a variety of specialty foods such local jams and preserves to homemade soups and pastas. And in various shops located within the market, and along the newly developed alleyways that mimic quaint neighbourhoods, you will discover a fine selection of local artisans selling their wares that include whimsical hats, hand made paper products, handcrafted furniture, to locally designed clothing.

For the locals though, Granville Island is all about the food. A popular destination for gourmands, gourmet chefs, and foodies alike, the market is also the perfect place for those who want to learn how to cook. Once you are able to negotiate your way through the maze they call parking and actually find a spot, your senses are immediately put on high alert.

The first sense that is triggered for most people is that of smell. As you walk through the small courtyard you pass the French bakery, La Baguette et L’Echalote. Here you are pleasantly assaulted with the aroma of fresh baked bread and you can’t help but follow where it leads you – inside the bakery. From there you make your way into the main part of the public market, smelling the fresh cut flowers on display at V & J Plant Shop.

Granville Island Market - carrotsAs you open the doors and enter, you’ll smile at the countless rows of colourful mounds of fresh produce: red and green apples from the Okanagan, crisp green, orange and yellow vegetables from farms in Langley and Abbotsford, imported yellow bananas, and layers of whole salmon, halibut, and snapper – all caught by local fishermen. The colours are bright and vivid and you are drawn to touch – to feel the freshness that captivates your line of site.

Next comes taste – samples are everywhere from apple wedges to the cut up pieces of perogies from the Perogy Place. It’s all good. But your visit is not complete until you grab a coffee from JJ Bean, taking a moment to enjoy the smell of fresh roasted beans.  With coffee in hand, and inspired by the incredible selection of fresh food, you find your way to The Market Kitchen, where you can stock up on all the latest kitchen appliances and gadgets.

But one sense remains – that of sound – for this you need to head outside (grabbing some seeds for the pigeons frGranville Island Market - Jazzom The Grainery) and while you feed the birds on the deck by the water, you can listen to some wonderful music or be entertained by local buskers (some better than others). In the background you can also hear the hum of boats nearby and seagulls fighting over seeds left behind for the pigeons. And if you walked on the Island, be prepared to be gently accosted by Dave sitting on an old plastic lawn chair as you leave the Island. Generally there between 3 and 5 most days, he’s on a mission, promoting some cause or another and often selling some strange little gadget. He calls himself a community advocate and is passionate of his cause of the moment, but most people tend to avoid him if they can. He’s harmless enough and talks with authority, but depending on his mood that day, you can never be too sure what to expect.

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Ladner Market Street SceneTucked away just on the outskirts of Vancouver and along the banks of the Fraser River is the quaint historic village known as Ladner. Named for one of the founding families, it was initially developed as a centre for farming and fishing. It is a part of the Municipality of Delta, British Columbia, Canada, and is now considered a suburb of Vancouver. Although the community is growing, Ladner has maintained its charm and has preserved much of its heritage. This makes it the perfect setting for an outdoor summer market.

Every year, starting mid-June, the community hosts the most wonderful outdoor market. Started in 1996 the Ladner Village Market has grown to take over three city blocks, runs rain or shine, and has over 140 local vendors. It is part farmer’s market, part craft fair, part block party and a whole lot of fun. The vendors may vary from Sunday to Sunday, but you can always find fresh produce, plants, cut flowers, garden accessories, hand-crafted jewellery, home made soaps, artisan crafts, local cheese, fresh bread, and specialty treats like fudge and nougat. Don’t worry if you come hungry, there are many food vendors as well as restaurants and coffee shops nearby to meet just about any craving.

Some of the vendors that stood out for me included:

  • Beaver House Fudge from Duncan, B.C. According to my friend Alison who lives in LadneLadner Market - fudger, their fudge is “orgasmic”. Her favourite is the hazelnut cream fudge. Although I didn’t have a “When Harry Met Sally” moment, I did enjoy the chocolate peanut butter fudge. Max and Karel, the owners, are very proud of their fudge and are quite fun to chat with. Funnily enough, this wasn’t the first time they were told that their fudge elicited this kind of reaction. www.beaverhousefudge.com
  • Ladner Market - La Belle AubergeLa Belle Auberge from Ladner, B.C. Known for its exquisite food in a beautiful heritage house in Ladner, Chefs Bruno Marti and Tobias MacDonald have taken their food to the road and created the best dang street food I ever had. It was tough to chose between the bison burger and fresh trolled pink salmon on a lemon crepe, but I went for the salmon and it melted in my mouth. Scrumptious deal for $5.00 – just be prepared to wait in line for a few minutes. www.labelleauberge.com
  • The Pepper Truck from the Applebarn in Abbotsford, B.C. This is perhaps one of the best deLadner Market - Pepper Truckals of the day, a large bag of incredible fresh red and orange peppers for $4. I love to roast peppers and marinate them in garlic, oil, and balsamic vinegar. Throw in some eggplant, zucchini and an onion and you have yourself a perfect little snack is good on toast with cheese or on its own with crackers. www.applebarn.ca

Getting There:

Although an easy drive from downtown Vancouver (about ½ hour) on a Sunday, you can also get there quickly by bus. The 601 South Delta bus which used to go along Granville Street now has to be caught at Bridgeport Station in Richmond. You have to catch the Canada Line (new Skytrain route) to Bridgeport and then transfer to the 601. Check Translink for specific details on which bus or Skytrain to catch from your area to connect with the Canada Line at www.translink.ca. Also, keep in mind that as the market grows in popularity, parking is a bit of an issue any where near the market area. Just be prepared to walk a little bit and you will be fine. For more information on the market and to see when the market is happening (not every Sunday in the summer), check out their Web site at www.ladnervillagemarket.com

If you didn’t find all that you were looking for at the Ladner market, there is another produce market just past the tunnel on Steveston Highway called The Richmond Country Farms. Great deals here as well and in October they have the most amazing Pumpkin Patch festivities that include a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, live music, and a corn maze: www.countrypumpkinpatch.ca

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