The Rossland Mountain Market was announced as the winner of the Farmer’s Market of the Year in the small market category (six to 20 vendors) at the second annual BC Farmers’ Market awards.
The awards were held last month at the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets Conference in Cowichan Bay.
“It’s wonderful to see such passion and dedication to local food and farmers’ markets,” said Elizabeth Quinn, the association’s executive director.
“The gala is a great opportunity to celebrate the growing food sector, acknowledge our achievements and recognize those who are making strides in our local communities. Our winners are creating opportunities, building communities, shifting perceptions and shaping the experience of what it means to attend a farmers’ market in BC.”
The winning markets were selected from the 21 public nominated markets from across BC. The judges considered how each farmers’ market added value to their communities and connected producers to consumers through fresh, local foods.
Armstrong Farmers’ Market won the medium category (with between 21 and 60 vendors at each market) and Comox Valley Farmers’ Market received the award for large markets (with over 61 vendors).
“We are so honoured to receive the 2015 Farmers’ Market of the Year Award,” said Miche Warwick of the Rossland Mountain Market Society. “We are actively striving to be a social celebration of local food, art and community and this award is a wonderful recognition.
This is an affirmation that we are heading in the right direction, it is a super boost to motivation for all our volunteers’ effort.”
These accolades were made through a public nomination process where nominators took around 15 minutes each online to tell judges why they thought their favourite market should win. That speaks strongly for the passion these nominators must have for their local markets.
One of the things that has contributed to the success of the Rossland Mountain Market Society is providing access to farm fresh produce throughout the winter months and connecting the farmers with local buyers.
Warwick explains the “biggest thing was that we tried to improve the community’s access to local farm fresh produce and hand crafted goods year round. It has been noticed by the community that we have added a larger range of fresh produce.”
Farmers can now plan to grow crop throughout the winter knowing they will have a place to sell their yield. It allows gives locals good access to food all year. Rossland is one of only a handful of communities in the Kootenays where fresh produce is available at a market over the winter months.
“Becoming a society was a huge step for us and a successful moment. It has given the market the opportunity to do a lot more in the future,” explains Warwick.
“We introduced our festival series and really have an interactive focus. We ran trivia and giveaways to get the community more involved with the market. Rossland Mountain Market has become more of a space in the past year,” Warwick added.
Warwick is also actively working with the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets to bring interactive workshops to this part of the province.
She explains the organization offers a range of workshops to strengthen farmers markets. Conversations are also taking place to host the annual conference closer to the mountain kingdom.
This will enable at least one member of the Rossland Mountain Market Society to attend the conference and award ceremony next year.
Come celebrate the diversity of spring fresh produce and local artisan wares at the next Rossland Mountain Market on Saturday, March 21 from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Rossland Miners’ Hall on Columbia Ave. There will be live music and a few surprises as well.