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All the fun of the farm at Farmer John’s Market in Grindrod

June 21, 2021 - 8:30 AM

Farmer John’s Market in the North Okanagan community of Grindrod is more than just another roadside attraction.

The market not only offers its visitors meals, refreshments and ice cream, it also has locally produced meat and produce, fresh baked goods, eggs, milk, cheese as well as crafts by local artisans. And on top of that, it provides its visitors with an up-close view of a working dairy farm.

“Without the farm, there would not be a market,” says John de Dood who, along with wife, June, own and run both the farm and the market. A popular stop just off Highway 97A, north of Enderby, the market has been up and running for five years.

Located on one of the parcels of land the de Doods bought from John’s dad in 1990 — after he had farmed it since 1966 — the market has grown to now include a cafe and restaurant, an ice counter and a large European playground for the kids. Plans are in the works to add a dog park as well. Prior to the current pandemic restrictions, tours of the farm’s robotic cow-milking process were offered, showing visitors how the farm and its 110 four-legged residents produce 4,000 litres of milk a day. Now that milking machine can be seen from the market through a large window into the adjacent barn.

The operation really is a family business. In addition to John and June, their two sons also help out on the farm and there are 16 seasonal staff who also work at the market.

“The store is a lot of work,” says de Dood. “But we wanted to diversify.”

While popular in the summer months, de Dood says they are still building up their shoulder season business and have added new features in recent years, like the new playground structure imported from Denmark. It's full of ropes, ladders and safety nets and will keep the kids busy climbing on it for hours.

After the impact of the pandemic last year, de Dood says he is looking forward to good summer this year now that travel restrictions are easing in B.C. He described the market as a “comfort place,” for road-weary travellers to stop and take a refreshing break. With easy parking for vehicles and a pull-through loop for RVs, the roadside market is a popular stop for those heading into, and out of, the Okanagan, especially for Albertan visitors driving from Calgary.

The unique market runs from the Victoria Day long weekend in May to mid-October. Currently, it’s open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). However, in July it will move to being open seven days a week and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

De Dood said the market has a varied clientele, with older folks — many of whom grew up on farms — loving the farm setting and families with kids loving the playground and the tasty treats, particularly the ice cream and milkshakes. The market features dining on its two outdoor patios.

So, if you are passing through Grindrod this summer, or even just looking for a fun day trip in the North Okanagan, check out Farmer John’s Market. It is located at 15 Grandview Bench Road in Grindrod. For more information, check out their website at farmerjohnsmarkets.ca or call (778) 443-5111.

 

 

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