Coquitlam Farmers Market welcomes B.C. craft beer and wine sales

Mhorsa Ogmundson packs some carrots into a back at the Forstbauer Natural Food Farm booth at the Port Moody Farmers
Mhorsa Ogmundson packs some carrots into a back at the Forstbauer Natural Food Farm booth at the Port Moody Farmers' Market at the PoMo recreation complex. The next winter market is Dec. 29.
— image credit: Dan Ebenal/The Tri-City News

Organic carrots.



Kettle corn.

As early as the spring, you might be able to add a bottle of B.C.-made merlot to your grocery list when visiting a farmers' market.

And that's welcome news for Tabitha McLoughlin, executive director of the Coquitlam Farmers Market, which runs a weekly market in spring, summer and early fall in Coquitlam and the biweekly Port Moody Farmers in late fall and winter.

"I think it's great," said McLoughlin. "It's another avenue that we can get B.C. product available to consumers in a place where they already are shopping, and it fits so well with B.C. fruits and produce that people are buying."

She hasn't yet been approached by any possible vendors since Premier Christy Clark made the announcement and expects it will be some time before new rules are in place. But she is hopeful that B.C. wine, craft beer and spirits will be sold during the 2014 market season.

"The success is always in the details, so we will have to wait and see what the implementation of this new market segment will look like," she said. "Overall, I think it will give shoppers another reason to shop at farmers markets, it will add to the vibrancy of the markets and it will increase the economic impact of markets in cities across the province."

Typically small farm-gate producers have to wait for consumers to show up but with this change, they can bring their product to the urban market.

"Farmers markets are incredibly good small business incubators. They offer a direct relationship with the consumer and the ability for a business owner to react to customer feedback almost instantly," McLoughlin said.

Wine and beer vendors interested in bringing their products and tastings to markets in Port Moody and Coquitlam will have to pass the same test as any other vendor that sells locally.

"It has to be made, baked or grown here, it's got to be B.C. beer wine or spirits," she explained.

The opportunity is just one more avenue of growth for farmers' markets, which have seen rising consumer demand over the years, although studies have shown only about 1% of Tri-City consumers get some of their groceries at the local farmer's markets.

"So we have lots of room to grow," she said.

As well, more people are interested in growing their own food and the Coquitlam Farmers Market hopes to find space for another community garden in Port Moody to accommodate 40 people on a waiting list.

The new community garden at Port Moody Police Department headquarters has generated a lot of interest, McLoughlin said, especially from people who live in townhouses and condos.

• The next winter farmer's market will take place Sunday, Dec. 29 at PoMo recreation complex, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.


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