Locally grown food, locally produced wines — there’s arguably no better combination in B.C. And, in case you haven’t heard, there's no better place to enjoy it than the farmers’ markets around the Interior.
It’s been five years since the provincial government allowed the inclusion of wine and spirits at B.C. farmers markets and it’s been a successful program from Kamloops, to the Shuswap and throughout the Okanagan.
“That first year we had so many vendors wanting to come to the market, but the hardest part was getting their staff to come in,” said Frances Callaghan, the Kelowna farmers and crafters market co-ordinator.
As time marched on they found a better rhythm and started cycling wineries through the market. Until July the Saturday market has two wineries/cideries and the Wednesday market has none. Once the summer is in full swing, the Wednesday market will add a wine and spirits vendor, too.
“We send them our map for the month and they fill in when they can come and we schedule it,” she said. “We have it down to a science now.”
And it’s a science that market visitors are enjoying immersing themselves in.
“We do a thing called “taste of the market” and we have food at the farmers market that we pair with what’s being sampled that day,” said Callaghan. “We go to the cidery or winery and say, this is what we are sampling (in terms of food) and they pick what will match it.”
People enjoy learning about the wines in that environment so much that they almost always come back and ask about who’s sampling in the next week.
The same program is also running at the Penticton Farmer’s Market to a high level of success, as well as Vernon’s Farmers Market.
Ingrid Baron, manager of the Vernon market, said three or four wineries, a spirits vendor and a cidery may be on hand at any given market.
“Sometimes they’re all there and sometimes not,” she said.
When they are, however, the visitors love it.
“It’s funny, you still get the odd one who looks at it and says, ‘liquor at the farmers market?’” She said. “But you can’t drink a glass there. You get to sample.”
The only twist is that on Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the offerings are North Okanagan focused.
“Kelowna and Penticton’s wineries have plenty of opportunities,” she said. “Ours are a little less known.”
As for Kamloops, the Kamloops Regional Farmers' Market has been taking place for more than 40 years and runs weekly on two different days from mid-April to the end of October. The Wednesday markets run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Victoria Street and Saturday markets run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the 200 block of St. Paul Street.
You can expect to find various home-based businesses as vendors ranging from baked goods, handmade jewellery, produce, flowers, various meats, soaps and beauty products.
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