The Rossland Mountain Market was hopping on June 30, its opening day of the season, with crowds flooding Queen Street to do their veggie shopping, pick up jars of jam, snack on the odd samosa, and peruse a wide variety of arts and crafts.
The market is co-ordinated by Rossland REAL Food to support local entrepreneurs selling their homemade and homegrown goods, but also strive to help Rosslanders and the local business community connect with local growers.
Called a “complete success” by main organizer Rachael Roussin who was selling her Happy Valley Greens, and the “social event of the year” by at least one commentator, the market was stuffed with stalls and shoppers.
Some stories remain the same as last year: Rebecca Gilhula brought 250 Sweet Dreams cupcakes to market and sold out before four o’clock and the Alpine Grind’s baked offerings didn’t stick around for long either.
Other stories are new: Shoppers were ecstatic about Swiss baker Manfred Zumbrunn’s ryes, sourdough, and seven-grain breads. While still operating a bakery in Valemount, near Jasper, Zumbrunn and his wife recently relocated to Genelle for the Kootenay lifestyle where they’ve set up Manfred’s Specialty Breads & Pastries. They’ll be at market all summer long.
Big news for Rosslanders intent on produce from within a 100-kilometre radius of town are two solid veggie vendors who have signed on for the season — Mad Dog certified organic farm from just outside Castlegar, and the modern hothouses of Centre Road Farm out of Grand Forks.
Mad Dog is well-known among the region’s foodies as the Kootenay Mountain Grown farm owned and operated by Nette and Jeremy Lack, the force behind the Kootenay Local Agriculture Society. Their diverse operation is characterized by a riot of vegetation patrolled by posses of chickens and swarms of bees. The couple are also a wealth of information besides a wealth of healthy food.
Their website, www.maddogfarm.ca, gives information on their weekly box CSA — 30 weeks, from April to November — sales of seeds, seedlings, and even body care products, and educational courses from gardening through the seasons to beekeeping. These guys have natural growing “without whatevercides” fully dialed.
Centre Road’s tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and more were all grown in 33,000 sq. ft. of highly automated greenhouses, seven of them designed and built by Jerry and Debbie — Jerry was previously a plumber and gas fitter by profession. The couple also had potatoes on sale from Abetkoff Farm, Grand Forks.
Soon they’ll have strawberries grown in their “Verti-Gro” towers, 24 plants to a tower fed from the top with recirculating water and nutrients.
Although not organic because they use synthetic fertilizers, “We don’t use pesticides of any kind,” Jerry said. Instead, biological control is their game, using the P. persimilis mite to control two-spot mites, a parasitic wasp (A. colemani) and lady bugs to control aphids, and a Swerski bug for thrips.
Centre Road’s tent also became the main stage (and main refuge from the odd sprinkle of rain) for Dandelion and the Ditchweeds as they serenaded the crowd with a reunion performance. Former Rossland residents Jordan Barca on banjo and Alissa Arnasson, a.k.a. Dandelion, travelled from Kaslo to celebrate the first Mountain Market of the year.
Lucas Karn, who last year participated in a bike trip across Canada and south to Costa Rica to raise awareness on issues of sustainability — until an injury forced him to return to Rossland — had a table selling absolutely incredible cookies, brownies, and even pickled asparagus to raise money for his upcoming project with Canada World Youth.
Craftspeople included (but certainly weren’t limited to) local resident Shauna’s “Inspiral” offerings of long feather earrings, headbands, and hoola hoops, all made from scratch — the hoops, for example, were made from “tubing, tape, and love.”
Tricia Rasku, a textile artist well-known from her works displayed at the Rouge Gallery and elsewhere, had a table of finely crafted felts, hand spun and woven shawls, herb vinegars, spindles, and homemade soaps. Later this summer Rasku will offer soap-making workshops for $50 — participants will go home with both knowledge and 20 bars of soap.
Dave Klein and Caley Mulholland made sure the market was stocked with seedlings and, besides her popular samosas, Mulholland also threw in some rhubarb-strawberry jam in counterpoint with Mel Black’s beautifully presented and utterly scrumptious plum dipping sauces.
Rosslanders receive a cut rate for market space, $5 instead of $8 for a four-foot-by-four-foot table, and $10 instead of $15 for a tent. Interested vendors should visit www.rosslandfood.com or contact Roussin at 362-5452.
Buskers of all kinds should contact Andrew Bennett of Rossland REAL Food, 521-2500, to reserve spots.
The market runs from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Thursday in downtown Rossland.