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Samples and selling allowed at farmers' market

Farmers' market customers in B.C. now have the option of buying beer, wine, ciders, and spirits along with their artisan cheeses and fresh-picked produce.

They'll even be allow to sip samples, just like they can on wine tours and in liquor stores across the province.

Now, local farm market coordinator Judy Pickard is working the phones, trying to find a few vendors to bring their brews to the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market.

"We have had a few that have inquired about it," she said. "They all knew this was coming and we're just in the process of hopefully having a few join us."

The provincial government recently relaxed the B.C. Liquor Policy, including making the change at farmers' markets, and allowing children in pubs and Legions.

The District of Kent followed suit, and approved a policy to allow for the sale of beer, wine, ciders and spirits at the local farm market. In keeping with the nature of the market, preference will be given to local producers, and then producers from around the province.

"I think this will definitely be an asset to the market," Pickard said. Now, shoppers will be able to pick up an even wider selection of items prior to the weekend. Any producer wishing to sell and serve samples at a B.C. farm market will have to follow strict regulations, Pickard said. But when it's all said and done, the new changes will only help B.C.'s producers.

"It's a whole new avenue, from them and for B.C. markets," Pickard said.

The B.C. Association of Farmers' Market is equally excited about the changes.

"Having local liquor manufacturers at B.C. farmers' markets will offer shoppers a convenient opportunity to taste-test and purchase local liquor products, and at the same time promoting B.C. agri-tourism, creating new economic opportunities for local businesses and helping to complement the sales of B.C.-grown foods," said Jon Bell, president of the B.C. Association of Farmers' Markets.

The province said the change adopts a "community-centred approach."

Liquor manufacturers will apply directly to the farmers' markets where they wish to sell their products and it will be up to the market association to determine which vintners, distillers and brewers are accepted, subject to municipal bylaws. To help ensure responsible service and prevent sales to minors, liquor vendors must have Serving it Right certification.

The Agassiz Farm Fresh Market runs every Thursday in the parking lot of the Agassiz Harrison Museum, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Pickard said it's getting better all the time, and they have some special things going on this year.

Next week, an acoustic guitarist will be performing. And on various Thursdays in July and August, the market will align with the District's live music nights in Pioneer Park.

Also new this year is a Selfie Contest, run by the B.C. Farmers' Market Association. Bring your camera or your smart phone to the main tent at the market, and Pickard will help you enter the contest. All you have to do is take a picture of yourself at the market, and load the photo to web. There are canning supplies up for grabs, and a $500 voucher to be spent at your local farmers' market, Pickard said.

To learnĀ  more about selling at the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market, phone 604-796-3545.

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