From left to right: Anna Wheeler, Jess Kampen and Heather Redmond have put hundreds of hours into reviving the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market, set to start June 28. The trio have just begun accepting vendor applications for the 2018 season. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

Local women revive Agassiz Farm Fresh Market

Now accepting vendor applications for 2018 season

About one year ago, Agassiz residents Heather Redmond and Jess Kampen sat outside, watching their kids jump on a trampoline. The pair started discussing summer plans and what they missed about Agassiz

They both fondly remembered the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market that had its last appearance in the summer of 2015. Kampen recalled buying fresh canning fruit like peaches and tomatoes and Redmond remembered the joy of running into neighbours at a local event.

The conversation quickly snowballed into a plan to revive Agassiz’s farmers market. The pair contacted Anna Wheeler, who had moved to Agassiz only a year prior, but had long expressed a desire to get a farmers market up and running.

“We thought, if not us, then who? In a small town you have to contribute in order to make it the place you want to be and the place you want to raise your kids, and so we sort of blindly stumbled into it,” Redmond said with a laugh. “When it was here, I really enjoyed seeing my neighbours out shopping…I like my kids meeting the people who had made the food [and] grown the food…I just think it was an excellent community event.”

The trio initially hoped to put on a half-season market in 2017, but the amount of work required to get the market running quickly squashed those plans.

“I don’t think we were aware of how much paperwork there was to start [the market,]” recalled Kampen. “We had to get our society registration and the banking information and get approved by the District…”

It would be a full year and a couple hundred hours of meeting, planning and filling out paperwork before the market was on its way to becoming a reality.

Now, the board is accepting vendor applications for the new Agassiz Farm Fresh Market – set to start June 28 and run from 4-7 p.m. on Thursdays for the rest of the season with special occasion dates for Canada Day and the Fall Fair.

The market will take over the Agassiz Harrison Museum’s parking lot and the west portion of Pioneer Park, offering heat relief in the park’s cool grass and shade of the old growth trees.

The women said they aren’t trying to change the market from what it was, but rather revive and build on it. Following the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets’ ‘make, bake, grow, raise,’ mandate, vendors will be hyper-local, and not just limited to professional farmers.

We’re encouraging backyard growers,” said Kampen. “There’s a lot of people in Agassiz who grow backyard stuff but then they have too much of it. We want to encourage them to sign up for a market or two.”

Wheeler agreed, saying they hope vendors of all sizes will want to be a part of the market.

“I would encourage anybody that does backyard gardening or that has a small business of any type – vegetables or food or eggs or flowers – to apply. We don’t want people to be worried that [they] don’t have a big business or a farm,” she said. “We don’t want people to be intimidated.”

Wheeler said the market will have artisans, but the intent it to focus on food, both fresh and prepared.

“Our desire is to keep it heavy with growers and food producers and shopping food items. There definitely will be some artisans but the balance between food vendors and artisans is going to be very heavy on the food.”

Along with creating a community event with local shopping options, the trio want the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market to create fun, family experiences.

“We would really like to have more things for people to eat on site,” said Redmond. “We would really like for people to be able to – not just shop – but sit and have a little picnic dinner with their family. Bring some stuff, buy some stuff and enjoy the park.”

Kampen agreed, emphasizing that the weekly event will be more of a ‘family market.’ “We want to have a table set up just for kids so they can colour, do crafts [and] bubbles.”

Vendor applications for the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market are available online at agassizfarmfreshmarket.com.

 

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