It's a bright afternoon, the sun is bouncing off the peaks of a line of small tents. As you draw closer, happy chatter reaches your ears; maybe the trill of a fiddle or the strum of a guitar. Staring down the long column of booths, the faces of vendors are lit with smiles greeting friends, old and new. Tables teem with treats for your eyes and your mouth to feast on. Every glance you throw is met with a plethora of stimulus, and yet, you still feel calm, comforted, welcome.
If you are someone who loves markets, we don't have to explain the feeling you get when you walk into a new market for the first time, or even from revisiting one that you hold dear. We Salt Spring Islanders are very lucky to have a longstanding Saturday Market and a more recently established Tuesday night Farmers Market, that run from April to October and June to October respectively. The Saturday Market has over 140 artisans and food producers participating on a regular basis and has become one of our most treasured events. The market policy is that vendors must “make it, bake it, or grow it” so that everything you see is locally produced.
We can't imagine a better tradition than coming together as a community consistently to share the fruits of our labours. It is encouraging in so many ways. Shopping local supports the economy our friends and families depend on. It keeps us thriving, and it fosters connection between individuals that may not have crossed paths in the community otherwise. It is also a vote for quality and entrepreneurship! Sure, there are big companies that can deliver a quality product, but doesn't it feel so much better purchasing something that you know was carefully crafted or grown by someone who is making a life for themselves in your neck of the woods? Even more so when you can actually meet that person face to face?
Our humble Island doesn't seem large enough to produce the talent that pours out on to the many small tables that appear on market days. There are so many different ways that creativity manifests itself into beautiful, delightful, and delicious creations. How better to build your wardrobe than with handcrafted, long-lasting pieces conceived of by local designers? What better way to nourish your body than to feed it with sustainably produced, healthy food grown by your neighbours? You can feel the difference!
Our Owner Jessica has been attending the Salt Spring market as a vendor for over a decade, representing multiple businesses. Her booth name may have changed, there may be more vendors than there used to be, but one thing that has stayed constant is the camaraderie that exists among the people behind the booths. They share in the routine of hauling all their carefully made or grown wares to their designated space and proudly displaying them. They have watched each other grow their businesses and themselves. A family-like bond exists among them, trusting each other to watch their stalls so they can slip off for a snack, or shop at another stand for their dinner vegetables. They are the life of the market.
With our new Victoria location opening up this summer, we are excited to interact with a new community, discovering new markets and meeting local entrepreneurs. One of our favourite spots, Hold General, may not be a market, but this year they are running their space with a market style in mind. They will be gathering local farmers together to implement a vegetable pre-sale program on weekends, doing their part to not only support local artisans, but food producers as well. We can't wait to visit, and to wander booth lined aisles of Victoria's streets and squares.
With our locally designed clothing in tow, we will be heading to our assigned square of pavement every week for the Salt Spring Saturday Market. We'll be looking for new faces and familiar ones. Come and say hello!
You Victoria locals, send us your recommendations for your favourite market adventures you think we need to check out. We want the inside scoop!