Trailblazing BC Women – @BCFarmersMarket Executive Director Heather O’Hara

This is the second part of my series about BC Farmers Markets and the relaunch of the fabulous BC Farmers Market Trail. Today I’d like to share with you an interview with Heather O’Hara, Executive Director of BC Farmers Markets, board member of the Foodlands CoOperative of B, and social entrepreneur.

Tell us about the BC Farmers Market Trail

Photo Credit: BC Farmers Market Trail & Webmeister Bud

The BC Farmers’ Market Trail was launched in 2018 and is the definitive guide to 145+ farmers’ markets, where you can find fresh, local, in-season foods, and connect with growers and markers in each community. 

One of the impetus behind creating this easy to use, consumer-facing website is to highlight how abundant and diverse farmers’ market experiences are across the province.

With the increasing trend of people seeking healthy, local, in-season products, the BC Farmers’ Market Trail provides a comprehensive solution to sourcing these products through BCAFM’s member farmers’ markets.

Photo Credit: BC Farmers Market Trail & Webmeister Bud

It is an innovative way for visitors and locals to discover these authentic, community farmers’ markets across BC, who share a commitment to BC grown and made food from farmers and entrepreneurs, along with artisanal goods. 

In 2019, the BC Farmers’ Market Trail expanded to feature farmers’ markets in four more regions including Northern BC, Vancouver Island and Gulf Island, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, and Sunshine Coast. Through professional photography and story-telling, the expansion illustrates the uniqueness of each farmers’ market and how each region is special and distinct from each other. 

How do BC farmers markets contribute to the communities in which they are held?

Photo Credit: Thomas Nowaczynski

Farmers’ markets, farms, and food create a deep emotional connection and bring people together by providing rich community gathering places for farm and food along with local music, arts, and artisans where locals and tourists can fully experience the community and region.

Farmers’ markets are unique and bring the farmer and farm directly to the consumer. It connects consumers to a fresh, always in-season and regional source. 

By talking directly with customers, farmers’ markets are also a testing ground for small businesses and entrepreneurs when developing and launching their products.

Why should our readers attend a BC farmers market?

Photo Credit: Thomas Nowaczynski

Farmers’ markets are venues to learn about fresh, local, in-season foods and they serve as springboards for local farmers and makers to introduce their wares to new audiences. They are places to connect with friends, family, and neighbours and celebrate the uniqueness of each community and region.

By shopping at the farmers’ markets, consumers are directly supporting farmers and other local businesses. Every dollar goes to local growers, makers, bakers and strengthens the local economy. By purchasing direct from farmers, you are voting with your dollar to support small, local growers, and safeguarding BC’s foodlands for future generations.

What are your top tips for someone who is planning a BC farmers market visit for the first time?

Photo Credit: Thomas Nowaczynski

Here are some tips:

  • Arrive early: Some delicious and special products might sell fast!
  • Bring your reusable bags.
  • Shop at the market with your family: It is a great way to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the activities and music that markets have to offer. It is also a way for kids to learn about new products, how it was produced, where it was grown, who produced it, etc.
  • Speak with the farmers and producers, and get to know people that produce your food. 
  • Bring cash: While many vendors accept debit and credit card payments, cash is key.
  • Try something new: Markets are a great place to pick up something new that you would not necessarily find at your grocery. 5. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Explore the online BC Farmers’ Market Trail (www.bcfarmersmarkettrail.com) and search markets by name, day of the week, community region, and season to find one near you.

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