Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vancouver Farmers Markets draw a high-powered political crowd to support changes

Vancouver Farmers Markets held an informative and literally delicious breakfast event this morning that showed their new-found political power in the city.

A full four of the five politicians vying to become mayor of Vancouver were in attendance - Councilor Peter Ladner of the Non-Partisan Association, along with Vision Vancouver contenders - Councilor Raymond Louie, NDP MLA Gregor Robertson and Park Board Commissioner Allan De Genova.

Mayor Sam Sullivan was not at the Heritage Hall event but NPA Councilor Kim Capri was, along with Vision councilor Heather Deal, making for a total of four city councilors.

Also in the crowd were NDP MLA Corky Evans, the party's agriculture critic from the Kootenays, and NDP MLA Jenny Kwan, along with federal Green Party deputy leader Adriane Carr.

And other movers and shakers and media mavens chowed down, including the Vancouver Sun's Frances Bula - the hardest working new blogger in town! - the Georgia Straight's Angela Murrills, CBC Radio Early Edition's Margaret Gallagher and a host of others.

Now the challenge is to harness that multi-partisan political backing into action - which is very much needed to make farmers' markets into more permanent, fully supported community resources.

Currently farmers' markets only exist in Vancouver under a hodge-podge of temporary permits, temporary signage that goes up and down for each market each day, temporary relaxation of regulations, etc, etc. as Tara McDonald, Executive Director of the Vancouver Farmers Markets explained.

This despite the fact that the Vancouver Farmers Market has gone from sales of just $50,000 in its first year in 1995 to a massive $2.8 million in 2007.

And while the Farmers Markets are providing a huge boost to local farmers - most products come from within 300 kilometers, McDonald said, and Vancouver adopted a mandate to support a "food-secure" city, a lot more can and should be done to support the markets.

McDonald outlined some of what the markets need:
  • Incorporation into Vancouver's Official Development Plan and neighbourhood plans.

  • Including farmers markets into Ecodensity planning.

  • Revision of Vancouver bylaws and zoning to include a current definition of farmers markets and acknowledging them as "permitted uses" in areas zoned for public amenities.

  • Long-term operating leases.
And more that would give farmers markets the long-term security they deserve.

Tell your local councilor and the mayor you support farmers markets and want to make them a permanent feature of our city. If you are outside Vancouver but in BC, check out the BC Association of Farmers'Markets for a market near you.

Regrettably, one ironic fact escaped the well-intentioned organizers.

Each attendee was given a fabric shopping bag emblazoned with the URL and the very clever "You Are What You Eat - Prepare To Meet Your Maker" slogan, and more material inside about the importance of eating locally grown foods.

But deep inside the bag came the dreaded tell-tale tag - the bags were all Made In China.

Ouch. Nothing like having a great event end with a bit of a thud, at least for me. Next time, make it Made In Canada please, or at least not made in a dictatorship known for sweatshop labour.

You will find all sorts of wonderful food and other products made in not just Canada but made in British Columbia at the Farmers Markets however, starting in mid-May.

Here's their schedule and location for Vancouver.

Vancouver Summer Market Locations 2008

East Vancouver - Trout Lake Community Centre
15th and Victoria Drive
Saturdays, 9am - 2pm
Dates: May 17 - October 25

Kitsilano - Kitsilano Community Centre
10th Avenue and Larch Street
Sundays 10am - 2pm
Dates: June 1 - October 26

West End - Nelson Park
1100 Block Comox Street
Saturdays, 9am - 2pm
Dates: June 7 - October 25
Riley Park
30th and Ontario Street
Wednesdays, 12:30pm - 5:30pm
Dates: June 4 - October 22


DL said...

Did Corky mention his barnburner questions from the Ledg. yesterday?

He meminded the folks that we now have half of the hog farmers we had a few years ago. The feed grain is harder to get as more is being grown for alternate fuel use and the BC government is giving 5 millions to the corn companies growing the stuff. Nothing for the hog farmers.

Our family included a farmer, his spouse, and four kids. They are small farmers. The kids basically are paying or paid their way through university working for their parents. Usually a couple of other youth work the fields and get just as dirty and tired. None of them quit even afer dawn to dusk or after work. They do two markets a week and sell the rest to selected stores. If they quit farming, guess what? Go buy lower quality from Mexico. The family farm pickes up to market opening time so the word fresh is obvious.
It's support the local guys or go somewhere else for your products.

Chris said...

The Winter market was good, but I can't wait for another year of yummy fresh produce.

tinaz said...

For those who are fortunate to live in Vancouver, whether the West side or East side, we have also the farm that comes to us on the weekends during the summer.

Here we are having so much abundance coming to us and the political crowd gathering together would appear as though they care, when in fact, all they are concerned about is their own bottom line.

The City of Vancouver and those running it must get their priority straight and that is to stop giving permits to corporations that has the potential of affecting our health and allow more Farmers Markets around, like in Santa Monica California.

This is why Gregor maybe what the City needs. I would have liked seeing him as the leader for the NDP but mayor is the beginning.

I support Farmers Markets and more people should too but we should be more concern about the city doing business with companies without the knowledge of the residents. The city of Vancouver under Sam Sullivan has turned into a machine. It does not support giving out permits to owners of Farmers Markets for all summer long on a daily basis, yet it gives out permits, without the knowledge of residents, regarding cell phone towers.

An article in the Georgia Straight written by Charlie Smith was published today regarding the cell phone microwave tower being installed on the roof of the building I live in. I called Charlie last week and he agreed that the issue that I was bringing to his attention was a matter of public interest. I would urge you to read it and maybe when you have time you ought to consider doing some research on that subject.

This week, in an email, the City Deputy Electrical Safety Manager & Supervisor of Field Operations Electrical Inspections Branch advised me that he won’t release any pertinent information regarding the project at 1395 Beach Ave. I was told that if I wanted particulars regarding the project including the power capacity of the antennas, I should make a request via the FOI. I was further told that my “facts related to the increased power capacity are not accurate and have no direct relationship to the radio wave power required for this project” However the City Deputy Electrical Safety Manager is not prepared to tell me the power capacity which may even be higher than what my friend told me. A request to the FOI can take well over one month especially when they don’t want to release information and the City Deputy Electrical Safety Manager told me there is no guarantee that I would even get any information. Further, he is not prepared to give me the name of the electrical designer involved with the project which he claims is a professional engineer, thus leading me to believe that there are no qualified people involved in this project.

The peopel running Farmers Market have integrity and we need them around but we don't need cell towers to affect our health.

Tina Z

Anonymous said...

In response to your information that eatlocal uses bags from China, I emailed the following objection to several staff at the eatlocal organization -- -- of which I am a member.

As a member, farmer market customer and huge supporter, I wish to register my shock and dismay at learning that eatlocal bags were not only NOT obtained locally, but worst of all from China, a country ruled by despotic authoritarians who are in the news daily with issues from polluting global skies, water and land, shipping poison foods around the world, building a massive military base (see below), shipping toxic drugs (lethal Heparin is the latest, see below), and repressing human rights on too many fronts to even try to list them here.

If the provenance of eatlocal bags is true (I discovered this from Bill Tieleman's blog, see url below), What on Earth Were You Thinking? Buying bags from China displays a stunning lack of judgement -- especially for a buy-local organization with a base of buy-local supporters. (Is the eatlocal pin that I proudly carry on my backpack ALSO made in China?)

As a member I ask you to send back or recycle all bags made in China and re-supply -- even at significant cost -- from one of the many local shops that supply shopping bags. If that's not possible, scrap the bags altogether. Most farmer market supporters carry our own bags anyway.

I hope your decision to buy China-made products to promote local goods was due to a lack of being informed. If it was deliberate, I wish to rescind my membership.


From a local blog:
Each attendee was given a fabric shopping bag emblazoned with the URL and the very clever "You Are What You Eat - Prepare To Meet Your Maker" slogan, and more material inside about the importance of eating locally grown foods.

But deep inside the bag came the dreaded tell-tale tag - the bags were allMade In China.

From the New York Times regarding Heparin:

WASHINGTON — A contaminated blood thinner from China has been found in drug supplies in 11 countries, and federal officials said Monday they had discovered a clear link between the contaminant and severe reactions now associated with 81 deaths in the United States.
But a Chinese official disputed the assertion that the contaminant found in the drug, heparin, caused any deaths and insisted that his country's inspectors be allowed to inspect the American plant where the finished heparin vials were made. He said any future agreement to allow American inspections of Chinese firms should be reciprocal.
From Vancouver Sun foreign affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe:

China builds a massive warship base
Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, May 02, 2008
The maritime arms race in Asia has crossed another threshold with the publication of satellite pictures of a massive Chinese underground submarine and warship base giving it a significant tactical advantage in the strategically important South China Sea.

The naval base has been constructed by tunnelling into the mountainous shoreline of China's southern Hainan Island near a place called Sanya.

The entrance is so large it will allow vessels from China's growing fleet of over 50 conventional and nuclear-powered submarines to enter and leave the base without being spotted by the West's spy satellites.

Anonymous said...

Bill, Tired of shoes made in China? Go to Harry Minuk shoes, 640-6 St. in New West. Their shoes are made in the US. Phone 604-522-8940. They sell SAS hand crafted shoes. Shoes for men and women.

For the woman concerned about the cell towers she might contact TRAVOL-- Tsawwassen Residents Against Overhead Power Lines. They have done extensive research on the effects of electro-magnetic outputs.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for the shoe advice - I don't have any shoes made in China - nor will I ever. I have an expensive tendency towards Italian shoes but there are still lots of options at every price range - if you take the time to check the label.

Budd Campbell said...

On the shoes, Bill, think Dayton. A good East Vancouver company making an extremely high quality product.

We have a farmer's market in Maple Ridge. They meet on Saturdays, morning till early afternoon, on the public lawns in the city hall square, but only from about May to October. It amounts to about two dozen days out of the year's 365. They have no refrigeration except what can be powered from an extension cord, no permanent cover, just tents, etc.

What I think we need are more Granville Island-Pike Market type facilities with reasonable rents. There is one all but totally abandoned shopping centre in Maple Ridge, and a couple of others that are struggling, but have plenty of parking area and vacant buildings. What's wrong with this picture?

BC Mary said...


Thanks for the nudge back into B.C. history.

Your mention of DAYTON shoes kept ringing a distant bell in my memory box. Something about loggers ...

Google knows! There's a wonderful story at:

Budd Campbell said...

And thanks to you, Mary, for that link to a detailed history I was unaware of.

When Joy MacPhail was Finance Minister she once used a pair of Dayton boots as her new shoes for Budget Day. She should really be onto Bill big time on this one!

The company for a time had a sales outlet on Granville Street, but it was not a success.

I have two pairs of Dayton's, a lace-up ranch boot and a slip on pair about ankle high. The ranch boot is one of their traditional items and cost me about $200 in the mid 1990s. It's now over $300 because of the price inflation that came after the Hollywood types started ordering them.

The slip-on is much cheaper, $75, and is a kind of lower end model, though still very durable, and which they have made at least in recent years and then taken out the PNE to sell to wider audiences, sort of a "taster" I guess. I bought it last fall from the Hastings St store after the fair.

But it's hard to sell good quality domestic products at a viable price point for the producer when many Canadians have become used to going down to Washington or Oregon outlet malls and getting a good pair of Rockports or Clark's in their size for under $50. You have to be able to persuade the customer that he/she only needs a very few of this line, and that they will be lifetime products.

Harold Steves said...

The new Steveston Farmers Market opened on Sunday at the Gulf Of Georgia Cannery. About 15,000 people showed up. It will be open every Sunday. See you there.