After three years of taking the Royal City Farmers Market from its infancy to a bustling New Westminster institution, market manager Jen Arbo is stepping down.
Arbo announced Wednesday that she would finish up the 2012 summer season as manager and then step down to focus on Hyack Interactive, the home-based marketing and social media business she co-founded.
"Hyack Interactive has seen some good success and I have come to a point where I need to make a decision about what to focus on. There's only X many hours in a day. I think it's a good time for the farmers market to be passed on to some new blood, so I made that decision," Arbo said.
Hyack Interactive won the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce's 2011 best home-based business award, which Arbo said was a bit of a catalyst in helping her reach the decision.
Arbo said she has given the market's board of directors plenty of notice so there will be time to find a new manager who can be trained and shadow Arbo during her last few months on the job.
Arbo came to be the manager in 2009 after a mutual friend recommended her to market board president Andrew Murray. The market's first manager had become ill and had to quit with very little notice.
"The fledgling first year of a market is obviously a trials and tribulations type of year where you test out some things and try to get some things in order," she said, reflecting on the market's beginnings. "We have developed a pretty solid reputation within the vendor community and also within New Westminster as well...I'm leaving on a high note, I believe. I get really fantastic feedback from my vendors who tell me that our market is the best-organized market in the Lower Mainland."
Arbo said she was heartened by how quickly and closely the New West community has bonded with the farmers market and the local food movement.
"It's satisfying to see how the community has embraced the farmers market and how people identify the concept of a farmers market with eating healthy, local food," she said. "It's really nice to know that we've had an impact on the community in a way that's so positive and inclusive."
Arbo said she will stay on with the market as a volunteer capacity, and she has some words for her yet-to-be chosen replacement.
"I'll be very sad to leave it but I'm certainly not going anywhere. I'm still in New West and still involved. Anyone who's taking over the farmers market needs to know it's not just a J-O-B. It's so much more than that, and it's an amazing window into the community that New Westminster truly is," she said.
Murray had kind words for Arbo on the news.
"Jen's done an amazing job for us...She's an extremely capable manager," he said. "She has taken the market's level of organization to a much higher level. We're a very well-organized organization due to her efforts and we're very grateful for the time she's put in."
Murray said the board will now be looking for someone to take over who is passionate about the local food movement and sustainability, has management experience, and can multi-task.
"We're confident that we'll find that person here, locally," he said.