Comox Valley Farmers Market Fresh and Fun

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While on a hosted trip to the ComoxValley for the BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival, I had the chance, along with other travel writers to visit the Comax Valley Farmers Market which was voted ‘BC’s Large Market of the Year’.

It is easy to see why this fun market is a favorite, because not only is it year round, but they also have an amazing variety of food.  We received a tour from Vicky, the Manager of the Farmer’s Market who shared that they are celebrating their 25th year this year.

The Market started in May of 1992 with ten farmers.  I had a chance to speak with Dave of Arden Farm who was an original member. Dave indicated that the market is going strong today, but he added, “It took a while.”

The market has grown to have 90 members with 45 primary producers.  “There are bison, water buffalo, beef, fruits, vegetables and more,” Vicky shared.

Island Bison raises bison and water buffalo and have a partner That creates cheese and yogurt from the water buffalo milk. This was a totally new product for me.

Estavan Tuna was on hand selling their fresh and canned tuna.  ‘They are the only fishermen right now,” Vicky explained adding that the fishermen can make such good money selling internationally right off the boat that those coming to the market have decreased.

Probably my favorite sight at the market was the shed created by Lentelus Farms who raise lambs and pork.  The artwork for the building was created by a friend of owner Dave Sommelink.

Dave shared that he had grown up in South Africa with dual citizenship, but stayed in Canada and started his farm.  His father had farmed before him as well.  “I went to school for conservation, now I just want to farm,” he added.

Some amazing  bakery items were available. The Pretzel guy said that they had baked all night to bring fresh pretzels to the market. “I’m a baker by learning, we are from Bavaria,” he said.

Besides the food vendors, there were also vendors like Backyard Bloomers offering flowers. Stew Ludtke had his business, Garry Oak, which is an oak that only grows locally. Stew said that the Garry Oak is native to Northern Canada, “but only 1% of the  range is left.  I found acorns and roots and planted them.  I hope people will take them and plant them.”

Among the flowers and products, Deborah with Lavender by the Sea said she has been growing lavender for the past 15 years and here in Comax Valley for 8 of them.  Using 1/4 acre, she creates products in her kitchen.

On this island there are particular products like the sea salt mix with culinary herbs and garlic created by the Clever Crow Company. There was also honey and Cumberland Hemp as well.

Simon of Good Earth Farms had a different take on vegetables, herbs and flowers.  He and his wife sell seeds.  “It grew out of an interest in gardening and it is unique.  The best thing for the environment is planting a garden.”

When asked what his favorite seed and produce was, Simon said, “It is the Banna Nana Pea, it is a nice large crisp pea.”

Wine was also part of the market mix.  Megan Hazelhurst of Stones Vineyard and Winery said she married into the family .  “My father-in-law tried grapes, for a while we sold them to a company that made port, then we tried our hand at making wine ourselves and we have been doing this for the past year and a half although we have been growing grapes for 11 years.”

The market is a family affair, that offers great music.  I loved seeing some of the children swaying to the music of Andrea Smith.

Before leaving I had to buy a small jar of Ivan’s Truffles.  I choose his lavender truffles. He sold lavender, natural and Houjicha which is a Japanese flavor.  They were all good, but for me th lavender took the cake.  I left with my truffles stuffed in my purse and a glass of London Fog tea, a great hot tea with a bit of vanilla and milk.  I was a happy camper as we left and headed to our next adventure!

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