With spring approaching comes the start of farmers’ market season! To celebrate, the British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) celebrated the best markets in the province at their 19th Annual Conference and 5th annual Farmers’ Market Awards.

The event took place in Victoria B.C. the weekend of March 2-4. You can learn all about the event from BCAFM president here.

(Photo from BCAFM)

“Awards were selected by a panel of leading professionals in the sector, including Dr. David Connell, from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Jon Bell, farmer and former BCAFM president, and Elizabeth Quinn, former BCAFM executive director,” reads a BCAFM press release.  The winners were as follows:

Farmers’ Market of the Year (Large, 61+ vendors): Nat Bailey Winter Farmers Market (Vancouver Farmers Markets)

Farmers’ Market of the Year (Medium, 21-60 vendors): Esquimalt Farmers Market

Farmers’ Market of the Year (Small, up to 20 vendors): North Island Farmer’s & Artisan’s Market (Port McNeill)

Farmers’ Market Manager of the Year: Katrina Dwuilt, Esquimalt Farmers Market

Farmers’ Market Vendor of the Year (farmer): Friesen Farm (Abbotsford)

Farmers’ Market Vendor of the Year (non-farmer): Lita’s Mexican Foods (Vancouver)

Farmers’ Market Volunteer of the Year: Alice Chan (Vancouver Farmers Markets)

Partner of the Year: You Gotta Have Friends Program (Langley Senior Centre)

(Photo from BCAFM)

The team at Esquimalt Farmers’ Market and Katrina Dwulit, its manager, deserve dual congratulations as they won in the medium market category and Dwulit was awarded Farmers’ Market Manager of the Year.

(Photo: Dean Kalyan Studios)

You can learn more about Dwulit and the market’s origins in our Urban Pollinators piece. Since its beginnings, Dwulit says there have been many big changes to EFM. Though their board has lost some of their previous amazing members, they’ve also gained many new and knowledgeable people. They’ve also introduced many changes to create a local and sustainable focus. “EFM has been more selective in accepting some types of Vendors and types of wares to try and really push the message that we are supporting true makers/bakers/growers who have the same goals for their community and the planet,” says Dwulit. “EFM has also started to be more strict about allowing new plastics into the Market while reducing the current plastic circulation and really promoting a zero waste mentality.”

(Photo from Esquimalt Farmer’s Market)

EFM was recognized by BCAFM “for its creative and innovative work,” reads the BCAFM press release. “Including initiatives to achieve a waste free market, the collection of food donations for community members in need, as well as the “barking lot” dog sitting service offered in partnership with the BC SPCA.”

Dwulit calls the recognition an incredible honour. “I have put in a crazy amount of effort at a volunteer capacity and although I have always felt proud of my accomplishments and the team that I work with its nice to hear that it is seen as a high standard amongst a group of people that I greatly respect who are also putting it all out there in the name of local food security and supporting micro-local economy!”

(Photo from Esquimalt Farmers’ Market)

What’s next for Esquimalt Farmers’ Market? “I do think we need to get out more into the community via different collaborative efforts and start to really drill in the importance and value (nutritional and economical) of supporting our local food producers as well as a piece of reducing our footprint,” says Dwulit. “Other than that, I would love to see the local First Nations highlighted at our Market and others in the CRD really showcasing their native foods and incredible arts.”

The North Island Farmer’s & Artisan’s Market in Port McNeill was also named Farmers’ Market of the Year (Small, up to 20 vendors).

“The BCAFM has been nothing but helpful in connecting my team and my self to resources and other members,” says Dwulit. “I value this association so much!  Cheers to you BCAFM team!”

-Ryann Anderson