While the Fort St. John Farmerís market is something thatís been a long withstanding a part of the community, it will soon face the challenge of finding a new place to operate as the current agreement with the City to rent out the lobby of the North Peace Arena will run out in December of 2013.
ďItís something thatís very popular and very much used and needed with the community,Ē said manager Christina Wood.
Currently, the market runs from the first Saturday in May until the third Saturday in December. This indoor market has a wide variety of products that are all locally made.
While the availability of products does depend on the time of year selections of goods are available for those who visit the farmers market. According Wood, things like buffalo, chicken, beef, eggs, baked goods, jewelry, hand crafted products, local honey, bedding plants, produce, flour, canned goods and preservatives are just some of things that one might expect to find for sale at the Fort St. John Farmer's Market.
Wood believes that the market gives the citizens of Fort St. John the option of eating locally.
ďItís in line with the 100 Mile Diet, you want to get to know where your foodís coming from, get to know the people who are growing it, you support your local economy and the economy ends up growing stronger, you keep the money in your community instead of it going to places like Grand Prairie,Ē said Wood.
Furthermore, Wood believes the farmers market is a great learning tool for children because when they learn about where things come from they have more value in what they have.
ďThey get excited about where foods coming from and if itís something they helped grow or itís something that they helped to pick out or collect at the farmers market the more likely to eat it, especially if they are helping to prepare it,Ē according to Wood.
According to Liz Calder, President of the Fort St. John Farmerís Market, the market helps create culture within the community but itís not always easy to keep going.
ďThe people that do it do it because they enjoy going there, they donít make a whole bunch of money,Ē said Calder.
While the Farmerís Market will be facing the challenge of finding a new home in December of next year, this isnít the first time the farmerís market has moved. According to Wood, the NPA has been the Farmerís Market location for approximately 18 years. Before that, it was held in the Fort St. John Co-Op mall.
Wood admits that finding a suitable location is something that could prove to be very challenging as it needs to meet a certain criteria.
ďItís a struggle to find something thatís central enough where people can find us, something where itís large enough to hold the market, something that has adequate parking, something thatís wheelchair accessible, itís definitely an issue, something thatís affordable because the market itself is a non-profit society.Ē
Wood isnít the only one concerned about finding another location. Calder is also expressed her concerns about finding another location.
ďTo be an accessible market, you should be somewhere where people are going to be coming all the time and you need to have parking and you need to be able to be consistent in renting it so yeah I think weíre probably going to have some difficulty finding another place.Ē
Even some of the vendors are wondering whatís going to happen when the market has to find another location.
ďWe are concerned about that, the place we have has worked well. As far as I know, we donít really have other possibilities at this point but we are looking, we definitely want to keep the market going,Ē said Dorcas Stutzman.
Dorcas and David Stutzman are the owners of Rose Prairie Honey and they rely on the market to help them sell their prodect. Stutzman explained that they started selling honey at the Farmerís Market three years ago and says the market is especially busy in summer months when fresh produce is available.
Stutzman also said that she feels that her product does fairly well at the Farmerís Market.
ďI feel like it does, if we did not have that, we would really miss it, itís not the only place we sell, we do sell from our house too but we do sell a lot more when we can bring it to the market but itís in town there where people can come get it,Ē she said.
Rose Prairie Honey isnít the only business that relies on the farmers market.
ďFor some people itís definitely a huge part of their income,Ē said Wood.
However, others take part in the Farmerís Market for other reasons.
ďA lot of people have hobbies, they like to do and they like to meet people so they make this stuff and if they didnít sell it they would probably stop making,Ē said Calder.
Calder also believes the Farmerís Market is a way for people to socialize.
ďItís a place where people can go on a cold winter day and have coffee and meet each other.Ē
The Farmerís Market is clearly a place that is important to a lot of people for variety of reason and next year, the market will face the challenge of trying to find a new home so that the people of Fort St. John can continue to enjoy all it has to offer.
However, the Fort St. John Farmerís Market isnít the only market that faces challenges. After their tent wore out, the Dawson Creek Farmerís market moved inside to a building that currently for sale and if the building sells they will also have to find a new home.