FARMERS’ MARKET AT WHITEROCK
The other weekend I had the pleasure of visiting White Rock for the Food Farmers’ Market and the experience was just AMAZING! The weather being so warm and sunny- which rarely happens – the plan was to drive to White Rock with Priyanka, link up with Professor Cherie, drop by the White Rock Farmers’ Market and then probably if we had time – enjoy a trip to the beach under the scorching sun. It felt like the perfect day to be out. The sun was out and so were we 😊.
We arrived at the Miramar Plaza at around 12.00 in the afternoon and by this time it was already flocked with lots of people. One thing about Farmers’ markets over here is that you need to ensure that you get to the specified location early enough because stuff really does run out. Trust me there is nothing worse than seeing your preferred stall with an empty table with the words “SOLD OUT”. Being a farmers’ market of course food is in plenty here. From fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables to home – made food such as bread, pies, cheese, jam and many others- the list is endless. Before we could decide on what exactly to buy, we enjoyed taking a stroll in the market as we looked at the cool stuff in different stalls. The vibe in the air was just amazing. Everyone was in a joyous mood and the environment was very much welcoming. The series of well tented stalls not to mention the aroma of cooked meals that draw people in… Mmm!
The White Rock Farmers’ Market is a market that runs every Sunday at the Miramar Plaza. A very nice open – air location where the members of the community are welcome to shop from the many vendors that have different items on display every Sunday. With the provision of tents and tables to vendors, the market generally gives an opportunity for vendors to sell their locally grown fresh produce, home- made food and even hand made products often at affordable prices to the members of the community. It is also here that people from the surrounding area and also beyond gather to not only shop but also interact with the vendors. In 2015, the White Rock Farmers’ Market was voted the “Best large market in British Columbia” therefore it was really a big deal for me being able to attend one of their farmers markets.
I got to learn that the Farmers’ markets play a major role in the aspect of food security as they are events that increase access to fresh food whereby friends, families and neighbours as well can buy fresh produce and also have the chance to connect with the people who locally grow or prepare the food that they eat. More like a community hub that promotes farmer to consumer direct sales. The tasty, free food samples also make the whole experience fun and interesting. Problems of food access are experienced in many areas globally and it is amazing that this problem is recognized here, and the action of farm markets is being undertaken to improve food security in communities. An incentive that I would very much love to see happening often back in my country, Kenya.
I had the chance to interact with a few of the vendors (not all) and I was able to even ask questions about products that I was unsure of. This is the part where one takes the experience as an educational opportunity to learn more about different types of foods and how and where the foods are grown and processed if need be. The vendors at the market were very welcoming and willing to share knowledge on what they were selling – how to grow the produce, how to prepare the cooked foods, how to store food – there was indeed a lot to learn from them.
As we were walking, we spotted the Natasha’s Pies stall and I was influenced by my companions to try the Strawberry Rhubarb pie that they swore I would love. Never had I ever heard of the rhubarb and i got to learn that it is a plant with thick pink stems and large green leaves that is well adopted to the cool weather seasons in Canada. The stalks to this plant are what are used to make delicious desserts, pies and jams.Also goes along nicely with strawberries. Having only tasted the apple pie in my entire life, I definitely wanted to experience this craze of the Strawberry Rhubarb flavoured one and I went for it. Story short, i ended up buying the whole pie!
We had a little chat with Natasha who was the vendor at this particular stall. She was kind enough to give us a brief history of her pie business which she operates solely with her 88-year- old mum, Vi in Chilliwack. Together they make apple, strawberry – rhubarb and bumbleberry pies which they then sell in shops in Chilliwack and at Food and Farm Markets as well. With my purchase she also handed me her business card with her contact details including her website business page details. She mentioned that she enjoys selling at farmers’ markets mainly because it gives her an opportunity to engage in conversations with her buyers and even goes to the extent of sharing her recipes with the community at large. I found this very inspiring because ideally, this is the ultimate goal of a farmers’ market – to offer a safe space where friends, families and neighbours can interact with the people who make food easily accessible for them.
From Natasha’s website: (which you definitely should check out)
“The variety of delicious flavours I offer are everyone’s favourites. I have loved the experience of experimenting with fruit to create a sweet, nostalgic experience. I wanted to create the taste of CALM, WARM and CONNECTED with eveyone i baked for. My pies are wholesome, made with love and care and knowing that every pie will bring a family or group together”.
In as much as it was a farmers’ market, there were also local artisan vendors with stuff like jewellery, clothes, hand made soaps and candles that were on display for members of the community to sample and buy if interested. It was amazing to see how people are so talented and willing to share that knowledge with the rest of us.
Did I mention that the Miramar Plaza location for the farmers’ market is dog friendly? Imagine you can pop in at the market with your dog/puppy. Well as long as the dog is restrained with a leash, it should not be a problem. It is amazing the number of people who show up at the market with their dogs. If you are a dog lover, you will absolutely love it.
After spending hours at the Farmers’ Market, it was time to go to the beach and enjoy the scorching sun with some fish and chips 😊
This is all where it begins
So when I (Cobby) landed at the Vancouver International Airport from Nairobi, Kenya – it suddenly dawned on me that I am in actual sense walking into this very new place – alone – with people I have never met before and one way or another i would have to blend in with the normal life around here. I have to admit that the thought of that made me a little bit nervous but I knew that all was going to be okay with time. The goal was to simply take each day at a time because there is no rush in living life, right?
Well, it has now been three weeks since I arrived in the lovely city of Abbotsford in British Columbia which is where the University of the Fraser Valley is located and you cannot tell that I am the same girl who was nervous about everything at the airport the other day. It’s so funny because so far, I am really loving it here 😊. Abbotsford or “Abby” as many people here call it, is such a beautiful, green and scenic city that lies at the heart of the Fraser River Valley. I mean how cool is that? The city has so much to offer and I cannot wait to explore.
My first week here has been the busiest of them all with lots of running up and down, here and there – setting up my UFV account, creating a bank account, getting a Canadian sim card, going for grocery shopping, getting my Student Card, Student U- Pass and settling in as well. Crazy how I had all these done within the first week but all these wouldn’t have turned out successful without the help of Priyanka, a student at UFV who offered to show me around and helped me with moving around most of the times. A total life saver! She gave me a nice tour of the campus going into each building and also the surrounding area. Not to forget, the Students Union Building which has this beautiful flag display of countries on the ceiling that is meant to act as a welcoming gesture to international students. Fact because as soon as I spotted the Kenyan flag, to some extent I just felt welcome.
Lastly, interesting fun fact about the Student U-Pass that I feel that I should share. The British Columbia Transit, which is a provincial corporation responsible for coordinating and serving public transport to people residing in British Columbia, came up with a transit pass program that allows students at certain public post-secondary institutions low cost access – about $41.40 that reflects on your student fees – to most Central Fraser Valley transit routes, which includes Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Langley and Mission (extremely affordable if you ask me). The University of the Fraser Valley is therefore one of the public institutions that joined forces with British Columbia Transit in the U-Pass program and that is how students at The University of the Fraser Valley, with a valid U-Pass can use the bus system by easily swiping a card and paying no cash. Definitely looking forward to my experience with public transportation as I already have my Student U-Pass sticker on my Student Card.
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