This week marks the fifth annual Farmers’ Appreciation Week — a province wide celebration of B.C. farmers, agriculture and food.
British Columbians are passionate about buying local, fresh, and in-season; According to Statistics Canada in 2011, more than 120 farmers’ markets operate across the province, stocked by nearly 20,000 farms, 98 per cent being family-owned and run farms. There isn’t much that B.C. farmers aren’t growing — B.C.’s agrifood industry is the most diverse in Canada, with over 200 agricultural products — and with market venues popping up throughout the province, consumers have an easy time accessing their products.
“The Rossland Mountain Market has worked hard all year long to ensure this community has access to good, healthy food. It’s not just about bringing in vendors; the market is about building relationships — friendships – with the people who are growing the food we eat,” said market manager Miche Warwick. “It’s about getting to know the farmers who care so much about our health. B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week is a time when we should all offer a big thank you, a supportive hug and a sincere handshake to those who work tirelessly so we can eat good food.”
Here in Rossland, farms from Fruitvale, Creston, Grand Forks and the Slocan Valley regularly provide everything from vegetables, fruits and herbs to antibiotic and hormone free meat.
John Abenante and Jeanine Powell are the faces behind Earthy Organics in Fruitvale. With backgrounds in kinesiology, horticulture, permaculture and greenhouse management, and a strong belief in eating healthy, John and Jeanine have built a beautiful, productive, certified organic farm. They began selling at the Rossland Mountain Market in 2008, and have been season vendors every year. To John and Jeanine, farming is more than just growing food; it’s a passion, a lifestyle and their contribution to local sustainability.
Joanne Gugelyk from Abbeylane Farm in Creston has been a season vendor at the Rossland Mountain Market for the past two summers. Joanne’s farm is certified organic through the Kootenay Local Agricultural Society, and she takes great pride in growing pesticide free produce. “Organic is important because it is a protection mechanism. When you put chemicals into the soil, they are brought right back out into the food that grows in that soil,” explained Joanne. In keeping with this organic philosophy, she also tries to use as little packaging as possible, opting for newspaper pots for bedding plants and paper or cellophane bags for produce, all compostable.
Wendy and Dale McNamar are the proud owners of Kootenay Natural Meats in Creston, and Wendy attends the Rossland Mountain Market on a bi-weekly basis. Wendy and Dale have developed a passion for healthy, antibiotic and hormone free meat. Their animals are born and raised on the farm and with their own breeding stock they control their animals’ health and welfare. All the beef and lamb from their farm is “grass-finished” which, in comparison to “grain-finished,” is a much healthier product.
Behind Centre Road Farm in Grand Forks are Gerry and Debbie Steadman. They operate a 33,000 square foot greenhouse, as well as an outdoor garden. The Steadmans love to grow food and feel very thankful farmers’ markets exist in our area; markets provide them with income to keep farming. Gerry has attended Rossland’s market since 2010 and feels that they receive a lot of support every week.
Mad Dog Farm is located in Tarrys, just east of Castlegar. Here you can find Nette Lack working on her 28 acre farm. A very important part of it is 14 bee hives containing approximately 300,000 bees, essential for good pollination. Mad Dog Farm is Certified Kootenay Mountain Grown, which is a farmer-to-farmer, organic certification here in the Kootenays. Nette plans to be a regular in Rossland.
See for yourself what they have to offer at the Rossland Mountain Market at Columbia Ave and Queen St., every Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. until October 2.