Say Hello to the Rossland Mountain Market

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
June 11th, 2009

July 4th may soon take on a new meaning in Rossland, as the day that the Rossland Foodies got their independence and opened a new farmers’ market in town. While there won’t likely be fireworks, waving of the stars and stripes and parades down main street there very likely will be an explosion of fresh fruit and vegetables, waving of bills in exchange for locally grown and made products and a parade of locals making their way down to the corner of Queen and Columbia to check out the new markets offerings. As reported back in May, Michel Germain’s efforts to expand his market in front of Ronnie’s convenience set the wheels in motion for the current market to open its tables. While Germain’s tour de force ended after he realized the depth of work required (including a substantial insurance requirement and lots of organization) was too much for one man to handle, the city asked the Rossland Foodies group if they wanted to continue where Germain had left off. Loving the idea of a farmers market in town the Foodies quickly scrambled to put together a market committee of Rachel Roussin, Amy Haworth, Sharon and Charlie Weider, Eric Myers and Joe Bye, among others. “The city has been so awesome,” said Roussin. “They have really been the driving force behind it. Mike Maturo was a super-hero. I felt a bit bad because the city spent a lot of time with Michel walking around town showing him the various sites and when Michel said this is too much work for me they had to do it all again with us. They totally streamlined the process for us. We decided to do this around the first of June, so for Rossland that was really quick and streamlined.” This past Monday night at city council, the request to use Queen St between Columbia and LeRoi Ave was granted with a few small stipulations including making space for cars to turn around on LeRoi and not having exclusive use of the site if other events need that space on a market day. The market, after some serious brainstorming, was named the Rossland Mountain Market and will run, beginning July 4th, every Saturday morning through until Halloween so long as it doesn’t snow before then. The major hurdle that held up Germain’s efforts to get the market off the ground was that of the insurance requirements. Going through the Farmers Market Association, the project required $400 in insurance to run for the length of the summer. While the group will be recouping some costs through charging five dollars for a small table and ten dollars for a large table, the insurance money was needed up front and $400 is a lot of five and ten dollar notes. The Credit Union jumped into the fray and granted the $400 to the Foodies to cover the insurance plus a little more to help with promoting the project and other small expenses along the way. Starting small in its first year with the hopes that once it’s off the ground it will gain in popularity and naturally attract more vendors and buyers, the plan for this summer is to limit vendors to locals within a 35km radius and work to maintain a high quality of offerings. With Joe Bye registered as the first vendor, the hope, according to Roussin, is to “Really encourage people to come down with their little specialities, or whatever they grow at home. Whether it’s someone who grew 35 zucchinis this year or someone with an extra fruit tree we hope more people will come down and take part.” Maintaining a high quality market while still attracting lots of vendors to get started will be one challenge for the new market to overcome. “We don’t want to exclude anyone, but we are trying to avoid a craft fair. Certain markets like the Salt Spring market have very strict regulations on what you can and can’t sell. We don’t want to shut people out but are really encouraging artisans as opposed to crafts. Joe Bye uses the expression “No doilies allowed,” explained Roussin. During council discussions of the matter Councillor Charlton expressed concern over the length of the operating season and suggested maybe council should limit their time in the space to late September or early October on account of the threat of snow after that time. While the market itself would not operate in snow, that month is the prime harvesting season for Rossland fruit trees and has a nice tie in with being bear aware. “We’re being bear aware in encouraging people to pick their fruit. October is a fantastic season for fruit in Rossland so maybe people will have the opportunity to do preserves or juice or pies. I’m also thinking it might be a great time for kids to make some extra money for people that want to get rid of their unwanted fruit. If you have three fruit trees and you can’t deal with it come on down to the mountain market and sell it,” noted Roussin. The Foodies are now actively recruiting vendors for the market as well as looking for new members to help out with the volunteer effort. If you are interested in being either a vendor or simply offering a couple of hands to help with the hard work the Foodies want to hear from you. You can contact the group at either rosslandmountainmarket@yahoo.ca or call Rachael directly at 362-5452 or 362-7272.

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