November typically marks the end of peak harvest season in British Columbia, but the stalls at Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) winter markets are still full of a wide assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Popular produce items like kale, cucumbers, and tomatoes are in abundance but shoppers will find more than just trendy vegetables here. In fact, customers will find specialty produce from around the world at their local farmers markets.
“We have over 100 farms and producers growing a huge variety of crops for the markets,” says Roberta LaQuaglia, VFM’s Operations Manager. “People don’t always realize the wide variety of vegetables grown locally – food familiar to many cultures is grown and sold here. We hope our Local Food Global Flavours campaign shines a spotlight on some of these amazing – and lesser known crops.”
This month, VFM launches Local Food Global Flavours, a marketing initiative in partnership with Hua Foundation that highlights the diversity of Asian crops and foods that can be found year-round at the city’s eight farmers markets. A Local Food Global Flavours Instagram contest, a Chinese language video series, and multi-lingual market signage and recipes available at vendor stalls are all part of a campaign to promote the markets to Vancouver’s Chinese community.
“Vancouver is a culturally diverse city, and we want the farmers markets to reflect that,“ says LaQuaglia. “Reaching out to the Chinese community with the Local Foods campaign is just a starting point – we want people from cultures around the world to know they can find many of the foods they love at our markets.”
Eric Koo, a 4th generation Cantonese grower from Surrey who sells at VFM under the name “Farmer Koo”, has seen a major increase in the number of Asian shoppers at the markets over the last three years. “There are more Asian customers at the markets now, and Chinese greens are becoming more popular with everyone,” says Koo, who grows a dozen or more greens such as gai lan, bok choi, and kola cabbage. “Napa cabbage is very big this year – we pick ours the day before we go to market. We strive for freshness in everything we grow.”
Local Food Global Flavours is a project of Vancouver Farmers Markets that is made possible by the BC Government’s Buy Local Program, and delivered by the Investment Agricultural Foundation of BC with funding from the BC Ministry of Agriculture.
About Vancouver Farmers Markets: Founded in 1995, Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) have grown to become one of Canada’s leading farmers’ markets, with eight weekly markets, 455,000 shoppers per year, and annual sales of $8.5 million. Our markets support over 270 small BC farmer and artisan food makers, and help keep over 6,500 acres of local farmland in sustainable food production.
About Hua Foundation: Hua Foundation is a Chinese-Canadian youth-driven nonprofit working to bring together cultural heritage and social change with an environmental lens. The organization’s food security initiative, the Choi Project, aims to put healthy, local, real food back on the Chinese dinner table.