Vancouver’s newest farmers’ market is supporting local in the face of the pandemic

The New Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market Reconnects a Community and Invests in Local Entrepreneurs as Metro Vancouver Cautiously Reopens 

  • Metro Vancouver’s newest farmers market was designed and purpose-built under provincial pandemic guidelines 
  • The market is the latest local Grosvenor activation of future development sites by investing in places the community can shop local 
  • The new Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market is just the latest placemaking and community spaces initiative launched by Grosvenor in Greater Vancouver—and globally 

As Vancouverites reemerge from lockdown—many eager to shop and socialize with a new awareness of border closures and the importance of made-in-B.C. food—the region’s newest farmers’ market offers the ideal place to reconnect safely and support the local economy. 

The Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market, located at 2150 Alpha Ave. (on the corner of Dawson St.) in Burnaby soft-launched Sunday, June 14, with almost 20 vendors ranging from local farmers to community crafters already confirmed. The market will run Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. until October 25. 

THE NEW FARMERS MARKET: FRESH THINKING FOR LOCALISM IN THE PANDEMIC 

“The fresh produce and crafts are the attraction, but so is our pandemic-proofing,” notes Bernie Glemas, chair of the Artisan Farmers’ Market Society’s board of directors, only partially in jest. The Artisan Farmers’ Market Society, a member of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, has been operating in the Lower Mainland for 16 years and runs a network of markets throughout B.C., featuring vendors who “make, bake, grow and forage,” Glemas says. The Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market is the organization’s fourth in the Lower Mainland, joining Ambleside, Lonsdale and the original Burnaby market at City Hall. 

Deemed an essential service, much like a grocery store but in an open-air environment, Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market organizers are ensuring the safety of vendors and guests by following strict health guidelines ranging from copious hand sanitizer and wash stations to metered entry. Terms like “open air” and “modified makers” are being used by organizers to ensure strict safety adherence. 

“In order to provide a safe, secure destination amidst COVID-19, we’re operating with half the revenue and two to three times the cost,’ says Glemas, noting investments in hand sanitizer stations, double the labour, caution tape, soap dispensers and face shields, masks and other PPE for vendors and staff. 

“But it’s worth it, given the community’s pent-up demand to reconnect at a local level and curiosity about local food producers after three months thinking about where our food comes from,” says Glemas. He notes that the Brentwood community is curious about wellness and the heritage of food, given the success of the local Whole Foods and other local purveyors of healthy living. 

His vendors are also excited by the easy highway access for producers to bring in their stock and the Brentwood Skytrain station to expand the customer base beyond the nearby communities within walking distance. 

A NEW APPROACH TO COMMUNITY SHOPPING—AND RECONNECTION 

Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market will reside on part of the 7.9-acre property, which local property investor and developer Grosvenor Americas, purchased in 2019. The UK-based private property company has operated in Canada since 1952 and this is its largest single site commitment to the North American housing market to date. Plans include a carefully curated mix of uses within the development, including market condominiums, market rental, non-market rental, and commercial in the form of retail. 

“Grosvenor takes a long-term approach whenever we develop a new property, and this is no different in Brentwood. We design and build with the mindset that we will be the owners of the apartments and retail for years to come,” says Michael Ward, Senior Vice President, Development and General Manager, Vancouver for Grosvenor Americas. “We have a vested interest in doing the right thing now to ensure that the community is not just a success when it first opens, but continues to be so long into the future.” 

SUPPORTING VANCOUVER’S NEED FOR PLACEMAKING AND COMMUNITY SPACES 

Activating future development sites by investing in places the community can gather is part of the company’s Living Cities approach and Grosvenor’s purpose of providing lasting commercial and social benefit, even in the earliest stages of planning and development. 

The developer has a global history of sharing and activating their properties, with the public, as properties await development. Recent examples of this locally in greater Vancouver include, a neighbourhood park on a part of the Grosvenor Ambleside site that connected Marine Drive back to the waterfront. In 2015, Grosvenor’s downtown land (now The Pacific) became a much-needed pocket park “so the community didn’t have to look at a fenced gravel lot,” says Ward. “We took it one step further and activated programming like yoga in the park and game days, to give something back to the community.” 

Grosvenor’s investment in a farmers’ market—especially one with the escalating costs of pandemic mitigation—is something the company believes to be an important step in supporting their community during a time of need. While the province continues to ease restrictions, Grosvenor believes that residents are seeking safe ways to reconnect, with the farmers’ market providing the residents of Brentwood an opportunity to do so. 

“You look at some of the world’s most beloved neighbourhoods and many have iconic farmers markets,” notes Ward. “Whether it’s Vancouver’s West End, or Washington, D.C’s Dupont Circle or Mayfair in London, a market where Grosvenor has been active for 300 years.” 

Grosvenor and the Brentwood Artisan Farmers’ Market have some big shoes to fill to make Brentwood the community it aspires to be. But with local interest, demand and Grosvenor’s global legacy of activating meaningful spaces, it takes its first steps this weekend. 

Come walk the market with us this Sunday, June 21st, Father’s Day.

Media release provided by Tom Gierasimczuk, Resonance Consultancy. Image: Pixabay, Helmut H. Kroiss.

 

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