Until this spring, when Peter & Elizabeth Andres of Poplar Grove Arbour declared retirement from the hazelnut trade due to the Eastern Filbert Blight, they had sold organic hazelnuts at the markets since 1997.
“I think our first day was… Thanksgiving weekend. We had no signs, no tent etc., ” said Peter, whose hazelnut farm is located in Agassiz, BC. “We came with a pickup truck loaded with 25 and 50 lb liquor boxes filled with inshell nuts.”
Poplar Grove started with the raw nuts and over the years expanded their product line to include hazelnut oil, protein powder, nut butters, and even a hazelnut oil based skin cream. Their delicious hazelnuts were popular with both market shoppers and local chefs, and the Andres sold out each season.
Poplar Grove fans were sad to learn back in 2012 that the blight, currently decimating hazelnut farms throughout the Lower Mainland, had reached their farm and they were forced to clear their land of the trees. Peter & Elizabeth have since replanted with blight-resistant trees, and are hoping one day to return to the markets with hazelnuts again.
We wish them all the best with the new trees, and hope to have them back soon!
A full decade before the trend of urban farming brought hyper-local product to VFM markets, Albert Balabanov of Albert’s Herbs & Nursery was quietly farming his one acre plot in Burnaby, BC.
“It was a point of pride to be the closest farm of all farmers at Trout Lake,” said Albert, who grows a huge variety of herbs, plants, and vegetables in the Big Bend area of Burnaby, one of the most fertile agricultural lands in Canada. “It means fresher produce since I can pick everything I sell the day of or day before the market.”
Albert has been vending with Vancouver Farmers Markets since 1995.
“The market was small,” Albert recalled. “I didn’t have a lot of product left at the end of the first season – just some cherry tomatoes, which I sold by weight using an old postal scale.”
Albert’s farm has almost doubled in size since his first year at East Van, but it’s still modest compared to most farm operations. He grows everything in greenhouses without pesticides and herbicides, managing the weeds and pests by hand.
“I’m considering going organic” he said, “but it’s tricky in Burnaby – there has to be a 30 ft buffer at the property line.”
Albert is at his stall every Saturday at Trout Lake Market – make sure to check out his wide selection of nursery starts, flowers, and summer produce.
Did you know that modern Salad Mix is a BC invention? California often gets the credit, but according to the book 100 Mile Diet, it was the creation of Glorious Organics in Aldergrove, debuted to the world at Expo ’86!
The Glorious Garnish and Salad Co. first appeared at the East Vancouver Farmers Market back in 1996. They were one of the original members of Langley Organic Growers, a collective made up of 5 farms including: Myers Organics, Friesen Farm, Glen Valley Organic Farm, Olera Farm, and Glorious Organics. One of the few certified organic producers at East Van at that time, Langley had line ups from the very start.
“The stall was so full of produce from the 6 different collective members, I used to suspend boards from the peak of the stall frame to increase surface area for displaying plants!” says Susan Davidson, one of the founders of Glorious Organics. “Opening line-ups were pretty intense, too – we had one worker full time in the back of the truck just breaking down and stacking boxes.”
Glorious Garnish dissolved in 2006 and became Glorious Organics Co-op, a cooperatively owned farming collective situated on Fraser Common Farm in Aldergrove, BC. Along with growing a huge variety of salad greens, market veggies, and flowers, the co-op has strong commitments to ecological farming, land stewardship and succession planning for future generations of farmers, and community education.
Glorious Organics currently appears with Friesen Farm at Trout Lake, Kitsilano and the Winter Market as Organic Farm Connection. To find their stall, just follow the line up.
VFM started out 20 years ago as East Vancouver Farmers Market, which had its opening day under slightly overcast and hazy skies on July 29, 1995. That day, 500 eager Vancouverites descended upon a small handful of farmers in the parking lot of Croatian Cultural Centre.
“I was sort of sceptical,” says Jeanette Helmer of Helmers’ Organic Farm, who sold at the market that day. “But Doug thought we should “give it a try” and right away, we could feel a real vibe to that market, and thought it had a good chance of success”.
Doug’s hunched proved correct, and the Helmers have vended at Trout Lake ever since.
The Helmers family, including Doug & Jeanette and daughters Anna, Jenny, and Lisa, are 4th generation growers in the Pemberton Valley, the source of some of the highest quality potatoes in North America. They cleared their land in 1980 and started growing organic potatoes, which they are famous for along the Sea to Sky corridor.
They grow 18 varieties, each one chosen for its specific taste and cooking characteristic. Carrots, celeriac, garlic, honey, squash and other vegetables also appear seasonally at the farmers markets.
“Those markets and the progressive and encouraging chefs in Vancouver and Whistler got us on the road,” says Jeanette. “The loyal and appreciative customers have made it all worthwhile.”
We’re sure glad to have you and your amazing potatoes, guys – thanks for the last 20 years!
For more info on Helmers’ Organics Farm, including their products, market dates, and farm events, visit their website.
It’s Opening Day at Trout Lake and we’re celebrating 20 Years with the vendors, shoppers and members who have gotten us this far. Read on to learn about Opening Day festivities, suggestions for Mother’s Day, news about beer, wine & cider sampling, and suggestions on how to walk, cycle or take transit to the market…
Opening Ceremony: Join us at 8:45am to hear from our founding manager, Devorah Kahn, Executive Director, Tara McDonald, board member, Lenore Newman and Deputy Mayor, Andrea Reimer. Stick around to enjoy sweet treats founding vendors, Chris from Blackberry Hill and Debbie from Small Pleasures
Pick up something for Mother’s Day: here just a few suggestions:
- Something for the garden: Visit Farmer Koo, G & K Garden, Lowland Herb Farm, Gloucester Green Nursery, South Grove Nursery or Christina’s Garden for flowering bushes, veggie and flower starts, Japanese maples, hanging baskets and more
- Something for her table: Pick up some cut flowers from Warmerdam Flowers or beautiful bees wax candles from von Hardenberg Candles
- Something for the kitchen: Don Asperin has handmade cutting boards and Matthew Freed’s pottery will brighten up any kitchen
Of course, making a meal with artisan cheeses, local meats, and farm-fresh produce wouldn’t hurt either. Check out our interactive market map to see who will be onsite
Sample beer, wine & cider! We’ve got R&B Brewing Company, Earlco Vineyards Ltd and Howling Moon Cider House on site handing out samples. Try them all and pick up your favourite bottle, six-pack or growler!
See you at the market!
For a complete vendor list, check out our interactive market map
For market location details, check out our Trout Lake Farmers Market page