Organizers of farmers markets in Qualicum Beach and in Errington are pleased that non-food vendors will now be allowed to take part in the markets once again.
On Friday, March 19, the government announced all artisans would be allowed to sell at markets province-wide, effective immediately. This news comes as many markets prepare to open their doors in the coming weeks. While many markets in B.C. operate year-round, others begin their season in early spring, between March and May.
The Qualicum Beach Farmers Market, already moved outdoors, has indicated it will now feature artisans and craft vendors this Saturday, March 27. They plan to add prepared food vendors as well.
The market is located at 644 Memorial Dr. in Qualicum Beach and it is open from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday.
“We are an outdoor retail establishment, we have a safety plan, we have protocols in place,” the organizers stated on their Facebook page. “Not one COVID case has been linked to a farmers’ market. We have shown over the past year that we are capable of operating a safe market.”
The non-profit group also pointed out that without the non-food vendors it equates to a loss of more than $35,000 for their market.
“We do not qualify for small business COVID relief,” they said. “We have applied for grants but so far we have not received any funds. Our reserve funds are almost depleted and we do not know how much longer we can keep going without our artisans.”
Errington Farmers’ Market will start on the first Saturday in May. But they also welcome the news the provincial government has lifted the restrictions on non-food vendors.
“It’s excellent,” said spokesperson Nicole Shaw. “It is showing fairness for sure especially when people can go to a big box store and buy all manner of non-essential items. They should be able to go to a farmers market and buy local goods.”
Shaw said they expect to have more vendors out when they open. She doesn’t see any problems with enforcing the COVID-19 protocol particularly on social distancing as they’ve already experienced it last year.
“We had to work out our local safety plan, we had signage and everyone was very accommodating,” said Shaw. “We had cones set up and line ups to each booth so that customers were six feet apart. We also had the booths spaced out at six feet apart so it worked out quite well.”