Penticton Farmers' Market: Authentic Fare
Every Saturday morning at 8:30, a loyal following of customers spills onto the 100 block of Main Street, criss-crossing to make purchases at their favourite market stands. It's an example of food security in action, with local consumers connecting with local producers, but to the devoted customers it's about quality. Penticton Farmers' Market has built a reputation for quality, creating a unique space for vendors and consumers who value it.
The Field Guide caught Market Manager Erin Trainer in action last Saturday, as she was busy promoting new members via Twitter. Social media outreach is one way to grab the public's attention, but she says that it's the strong brand that the market has created which explains its popularity. The market enforces a strict "Make it, Bake it, or Grow it" policy, in addition to rejecting vendors that have a storefront. The result is that consumers are interacting with small farms and family businesses, learning exactly where their food comes from and who made it.
In addition to building the market's social media platform, Trainer keeps busy dealing with new vendor applications that arrive daily. Farmers' markets are the lifeblood for small producers who lack a retail space, and having a limited number of market days during the summer means that the stakes are high. Saturday markets in Armstrong, Kelowna, Penticton, and Osoyoos represent a key part of the Okanagan Similkameen's economy.
Though vetting and rejecting vendors is a difficult job, Trainer finds satisfaction in working with the farmers' market community, comprising vendors, customers, and volunteers that help out on Saturday. The exchange of quality food is a joyous interaction, and when the relationships extend over a growing season or in some cases for years, a bond is created. Penticton Farmers' Market is a story of authentic food, but digging beneath the surface, we see that it's the authentic relationships that set it apart.