VFM: Essential to Community

Throughout the many challenges VFM has faced during the pandemic, we have been consistently inspired by the strength and support of the market community. Whether its coming out weekly to shop with our vendors, signing up for Market Membership, or making a donation to our Fresh to Families Fund, the community has shown up for us during COVID-19 just as much as we have for it. For this we feel truly grateful.

In the last instalment of our digital series, Vancouver Farmers Markets are Essential, we asked some community members why they feel our markets are essential to the community and to local food security. This week’s post features longtime VFM volunteer, Alice Chan, VFM board member and local food champion, Joanne MacKinnon, executive director of Fresh Roots, Alexa Pitoulis and our own executive director, Laura Smit.

Photo: Kaishin Chu/onelushlife.com

Alice Chan

I have been a VFM market host, volunteer and avid shopper at Main Street Station Market since 2016. This delightful little market reminds me of some of the food markets in Paris where the location of the market brings the local neighbourhood population together to shop.  

Vancouver Farmers Markets are an integral part of a vibrant community. At Main Street I see chefs from the nearby restaurants do their shopping and the neighbourhood’s residents walk or bicycle here.  

On a more personal level I enjoy the connections made over the years with the farmers/vendors.  And there is much joy in seeing the familiar faces of the shoppers who come back to Main Street year after year.”

-Alice Chan, VFM volunteer 

Photo: Kaishin Chu/onelushlife.com

Joanne MacKinnon

Supporting the Vancouver Farmers Markets ensures our access to a sustainable local food supply. Over the past year, we have experienced food insecurity as our reliance on a global food system has failed to deliver to our supermarket shelves. It is important to have a transparent, accountable food system; to know where our food comes from and the farmers who are growing it. Our food will not come from someplace else. The Vancouver Farmers Market is a key player in building our resilient healthy communities.”

-Joanne MacKinnon, VFM board member and Community Engagement Coordinator at Little Mt. Neighbourhood House

Photo: Kaishin Chu/onelushlife.com

Alexa Pitoulis

What’s not to love about Vancouver Farmers Markets?! I relish getting to shop outside and run into friends and neighbours or even better chatting with strangers! Most important to me is the ability to connect directly to growers and producers and be reminded of where my food comes from and the humans who are behind it all. The fun in finding a rare vegetable I haven’t tried or talking to a grower or fellow shopper about how to prepare something less familiar – I love it all!

I grew up in a small, isolated mountain town, where fresh produce options were limited. Growing up I also got to spend time in Greece with my dad’s family where I first experienced farmers markets. “Laiki Agora” (λαϊκή αγορά) – or just “laiki” are vibrant, weekly neighborhood pop up markets. Every Friday when I was in Athens, I’d go to the laiki with my grandfather (pappoús/παππούς) where I’d watch as he asked his favourite growers for their best oranges or tomatoes. We’d then pass by the fish stall, letting them know what dish we were making to get their recommendations for what to buy. Without fail, we’d run into many people we knew. I learned from a young age that these markets were also about building community. My laiki adventures with my pappoús led me to always search out the local farmers market wherever I go. When I moved to Vancouver a decade ago, a trip to VFM was one of our first family outings and I’m looking forward to many more!”

-Alexa Pitoulis, Executive Director of Fresh Roots

Photo: Kaishin Chu/onelushlife.com

Laura Smit

When I first started managing the Trout Lake Farmers Market, I made a passing comment to Susan Davidson of Organic Farm Connection, expressing surprise that farmers could charge for garlic scapes, what I then understood as a waste product. She levelled me with a look, paused, and said, “They’re good food”. 

Farmers markets are essential because they bring producers and eaters face to face. I believe this puts us all in a better position to value the food, the land and one another.”

-Laura Smit, Executive Director of Vancouver Farmers Markets

Vancouver Farmers Markets is committed to providing safe and thriving farmers markets for the City of Vancouver, now and in the future. To find out how to support us in the work we do, visit eatlocal.org/support-us

Banner photo: Kaishin Chu/onelushlife.com