The Royal City Farmers' Market is teaming up with River Market to bring farmers' market goodness to the Quay.
The markets have announced a new partnership that will see the Royal City Farmers' Market move its winter market - which runs from November to April - to the River Market.
"It's so exciting!" Jen Arbo, operations manager for the Royal City Farmers' Market, couldn't keep her excitement from bubbling over the phone line when contacted about the news on Friday afternoon. "We're so thrilled. We've been working on this for a little while."
She noted that the two organizations are a natural fit, since the Royal City Farmers' Market's mission to bring fresh, local food to people year-round is right in line with River Market's own "Food 360" concept - which River Market bills as "celebrating the full circle of food in a more playful, passionate and sustainable way."
Julie Ramirez, the River Market's manager of community services, was equally thrilled by the news.
"We're super, super excited," she said. "We just thought it was a natural partnership. We look forward to bringing other like-minded people to the River Market."
The farmers' market is currently in its summer season, which sees its array of vendors out in Tipperary Park every Thursday until Oct. 6.
For the past two years it has also held winter markets at the Holy Trinity Cathedral hall downtown. But Arbo noted that, much as they enjoyed working with the cathedral, it was becoming a challenge because the hall space simply wasn't big enough. With a maximum of 24 vendors, she noted, the market simply didn't have the capacity to make enough money to cover its costs.
"The problem was, the market was becoming unsustainable," she said.
The move to River Market means the market will be able to encompass 40 to 45 vendors and thus bring in more money without increasing vendor fees. Vendor stalls will be set up around the market - downstairs in the food market area, upstairs in the community gathering space and even outside, at both ends of the River Market and on the plaza overlooking the river.
Some vendors specifically want outdoor space, Arbo noted, and this gives the farmers' market the chance to make that happen.
The winter markets will take place on the first Saturday of each month from November to April, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
As is the case with the existing market, visitors will be able to take in a variety of food and craft vendors, as well as enjoying entertainment. Arbo pointed out that the offerings will depend on seasonality. So shoppers can expect to find cold-hardy produce and produce that stores well - such as kale, potatoes, carrots, apples - as well as an array of preserved foods such as jams, jellies and chutneys.
And, of course, there will also be eat-onsite food vendors.
Arbo noted that, with winter markets gaining in popularity, it's important to get the word out early to attract the pick of the vendors.
"We already know the vendors love New Westminster," she said. "It's important for us to attract a high-quality vendor. We're also hoping to see some new faces."
She admitted there's a lot of work ahead to make it all come together, but she says there's nothing but good ahead.
"It's news that I think only spells good things for River Market, as well as for residents of the city," she said. "The farmers' market is not just about food for people. It's more become a community gathering place."
Ramirez agreed, noting she can see endless possibilities to find partnerships between other River Market businesses and the farmers' market.
For instance, she noted, Wild Rice - which is opening a new location at River Market - may have a chance to incorporate produce from the farmers' market into its daily menu offerings on market days.
And she said having the farmers' market on site is a perfect way to reinforce the message of what River Market is all about.
"We really want to encourage people to buy local and to think about where their food is coming from," she said.
For more on River Market, check out www.rivermarket.ca. For more on the Royal City Farmers' Market, check out www.rcfm.ca.