The Squamish Farmers' Market is back for its 20th year downtown and second summer season during the pandemic.
Market organizers want the public to know that the pandemic-version of the outdoor market is a pleasant — and safe — way to shop, even in the middle of a COVID-19 spike in the corridor.
There are many strict guidelines in place to keep the customers and staff safe, according to Megan Davies, market manager.
The market officially opened on April 17. It runs every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The tents at the market are all "being spaced accordingly [so] that there's enough room to physically distance from one another," she said.
Davies also said that all of the vendors get health checks before they arrive.
"It's just reconfirming to people that this is a safe alternative to going to big box stores," she said.
For the first time, the market will stay outdoors by Junction Park & O'Siyam Pavilion Park through to Dec. 11.
"Normally, we would move to the Adventure Centre, but we’re just staying put in the carpark this year, and rain or shine we’ll be there," she said.
This year, more than ever, supporting local businesses, farmers, and artisans, who haven't had the easiest time in the past year, is important, Davies said.
"Their normal means of selling have completely changed or disappeared, so supporting local and supporting farmers and artisans who have not had the easiest time in the last year is really important to us."
Many vendors were not able to attend last year because of the public health restrictions imposed.
Craft vendors and artisans weren't allowed to operate the first part of last year.
This year the market was able to be increased slightly.
Davies says they "reassessed and made some changes."
One of the changes made includes increasing the vendors selling at the market, but keeping within their allowed max capacity.
Last year the market was reduced from 75 vendors a day to 25 vendors a day.
This year the market has 35 vendors a day and a total vendor pool of 95, according to Davies.
The vendors rotate through different cycles.
"There is a lot of movement and it's not always the same vendors every week, which is nice," Davies said.
Though the market cannot take on any new vendors, it can bring on more volunteers.
"Volunteers are what make us run at the moment; they're so crucial," said Davies.
While popular features such as the Kid-Zone and cooking demonstrations can't come back just yet, the market would like to bring back live music, but funding is an issue.
"Our music has been grant-funded before, and now grants are really hard to come by. COVID was a big hit for us last year. We’re trying to scrape by this year and have at least a profitable year this year, so we don’t currently have the money to pay musicians, so we’re trying to work out a way — if people would like to come and busk or I’m looking into alternative grants we wouldn’t normally apply to, to see if we can qualify this year for that," she said.
Davies said that this summer the market is starting a healthy eating initiative that will show how to connect the dots between growing, making, and selling food.
"We’ll take you and show you a carrot being planted and then that carrot in the fall will turn into sauerkraut that a different vendor’s going to make — about how fermentation’s good for your gut... We're really trying to put an emphasis on eating local is so much better for you and if you have the luxury and you can afford to eat local, please do and please support the local farmers and producers that we have around town and in the Sea to Sky because we are really lucky to have amazing farming opportunities around here and get fresh stuff."