By Nikki Hillman
According to the BC Farmers Market Association, White Rock Farmers Market is the “best large market in B.C.” and once you visit, it’s pretty clear the title is well deserved. While there are the regular items on display such as fresh fruit and vegetables from local farms, artisanal treats, and jewelry, this farmers market offers something a little different.
We parked the car on a quiet side street, just a block down from Johnston Ave, and wandered up to the market. As we walked we were serenaded by live music broadcast from an area we couldn’t see and yet it was like the sirens of the ocean calling us. I decided to check out the “T” part of the layout of the market and in the process, my husband went off on his own. At first, it was overwhelming to step into the hub bub, but as I ventured a little farther, I saw the smile of a woman behind the booth Modern Mixers and Elixirs. When I approached she began talking about vinegar drink elixirs mixed with sparkling water, vodka or gin (if that’s your preference). I’ve heard a little about cider vinegar and its amazing properties, which allow a settling of your guts; something that becomes an issue as people age. I tried a few tasters of the shrubs; quince, raspberry, and blackberry but despite my hesitance to drink vinegar, they were surprisingly delicious. I even started to fantasize about the gin or vodka I might enjoy them with, including a tiny splash of sparkling water. As the booth became busier with others curious about shrubs, I decided to move on. I ran into my husband, holding out a tiny tasting spoon and a cracker. “Try this” he said. I wasn’t sure what I was tasting but after, I realized I’d just eaten a delicious pate! But wait. Imagine eating a really good pate and then realizing it’s made entirely of nuts! Pastiche makes the most amazing vegetarian spreads I’ve ever tasted, we even brought home a package for snacking.
While walking among the different vendors I began to feel a vibe. This market has the feel of a hub, or a gathering place for those market people from all over the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver.
After admiring the gorgeous sunflowers offered by Floralia Growers Ltd. I followed the longer part of the “T.” There were great, large, purple bulbs of early garlic from Abbotsford’s Abby Garlic. Here we received a crash course on how to properly store, and use, a fresh garlic bulb. Who knew garlic should be so fresh it leaves a puddle of fragrant oil behind on your cutting board?
Next, I finally had the opportunity to try one of those Rebel Pops everyone has been raving about. These popsicles are made of organic fruits and herbs, sourced locally and blended into some delicious creations. I shared the strawberry rhubarb one and it did not disappoint. But the most exciting part of visiting this table is meeting Jonah Daniels, the young man who conducts the sales. He began the venture as part of an assignment for school! I can’t wait to see where he takes this business over the next few years. You can also find Rebel Pops at the markets in Maple Ridge and on Granville Island.
Festina Lente Farm makes delicious condiments and wine jellies made with wine from local Langley winery, Township 7. These will take your cheese plate to a whole new level! Of course, we then had to stop at the Golden Ears Cheesecrafters table, where we picked up some cheese and some of their wonderful home-made butter. All of the milk used in their cheeses and butters comes straight from their dairy cows which graze on their property.
By the time we had toured the entire market, and sampled along the way, it was 2 p.m. and time to leave. The White Rock Market runs 10-2 p.m. leaving lots of time for you to head down to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. But we weren’t completely finished. As we were leaving I stopped to admire the handmade tutus by Sideline Designs. They also make the most adorable fabric roll-ups to store and transport your child’s crayons, knitted shawls, jewellery and cloth diapers. The designs and fabrics are fun, playful and unique.
The last booth we visited was Clawfoot Spa, who make luxury skin care products. As they packed up their booth, we chatted with the owners and realized this skin care line was slightly different than the rest. They began their line of products out of a necessity; their children have extremely sensitive skin. The products are colour free, foam free and mostly fragrance free, and handmade with local ingredients whenever possible. We purchased a Botanical Blend deodorant; we’ve both become aware of the chemicals in some of our home care products and we’re trying to make small changes and choices. They also offer soaps, hair care and home and laundry products, available at the Market or online.
The White Rock Farmers Market runs Sundays, May 29 – Oct 9, 10 am – 2pm, with the Summer Market at 15154 Russell Avenue, White Rock. There are also Winter Markets held in The Elks Hall, 1469 George Street, White Rock.