How time flies. It is hard to believe it has already been 10 years since the Steveston Farmers & Artisans Market first began making it, baking it, growing it and catching it.
In May 2008 farmers, artisans, volunteers and shoppers gathered for the inaugural Steveston Farmers & Artisans Market (SFAM) in its first location at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery’s parking lot. An estimated crowd of 10,000 people browsed through the market on opening day to see what Steveston’s new attraction had to offer.
SFAM is a not-for-profit operation run by a volunteer committee and is overseen by the Richmond Agricultural and Industrial Society. All monies raised go towards projects and activities organized by the Steveston Community Centre to benefit the community. As an example, the funds generated from the rental of a market stall are being directed towards the renewal of Steveston’s adventure playground.
Alan Sakai is SFAM’s energetic chairperson and Karen Krumenacker is the Market Coordinator; both are volunteers. Alan recently retired as a Richmond school district principal and now dedicates his time to volunteering with SFAM in addition to the Steveston Community Centre, the Steveston Judo Club, and The Maple Residences.
He began volunteering with SFAM three years ago and increased his commitment in 2016 when the market relocated from its second location (in front of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and along Third Avenue) to its new home at the Easthope parking lot across the street from the Steveston Community Centre.
While the new location is smaller, it is a good size and can accommodate as many as 70 vendors. It is reminiscent of the original 2008 market square format.
Alan says, “The market was well attended last year and most weekends the stalls were filled. The vendors are happy and keep coming back – that is an indication it’s going well.”
SFAM is a place to find fruit and vegetables, which are often picked the same day. Fresh baked goods and prepared foods can also be found. There may even be a local wine producer, distiller or craft beer brewer on site. It’s a place to find unique crafts and directly support an artisan. It’s also a community hub where you will run into friends and neighbours while shopping and share tips about your favourite vendors, and enjoy entertainment by local performers. Alan mentions the South Arm ukulele group were one of last year’s biggest hits. The children’s area also offers good fun for little ones.
The tricky part for Metro Vancouver’s numerous markets is attracting farmers who are spread thin during a relatively short and busy season. There is also the problem of other weekend farmers markets vying for local producers and this is one reason SFAM decided to schedule the market on opposite weekends to Ladner’s market.
With SFAM’s mandate to keep it local, customers will only find seasonal produce for sale.
In May and June hanging baskets and other locally sourced plants can be found. By the time July and August roll around produce is abundant and includes everything from beets to beans, blueberries, carrots, corn, herbs, kale, lettuce, potatoes and strawberries.
Community is the focus for Alan and SFAM’s team of volunteers. This includes inviting community groups to run food booths rather than having many food trucks on site. Alan mentions Hugh Boyd Secondary School’s football team sold hot dogs and hamburgers last year as a fundraiser and SFAM supports these types of endeavours. The committee’s vision is to have people visit the market and support Steveston village’s shops and restaurants.
Volunteers are always needed.
To transform a vacant parking lot into a farmers’ market takes an organized team. Each market day a dozen volunteers are on hand to set up and the same number are needed to help out during the day and afterwards for take down and clean up. Volunteers come from all walks of life, from high school students to seniors. Alan says, “You don’t need to sign your life away. If you can assist for even a couple of shifts it is a great help.”
While the tenth anniversary plans are still being hatched, Alan is encouraging people to follow SFAM’s social media sites as plans unfold. As with any good party, there is the certainty of food and entertainment.
What does this busy as a bee volunteer most enjoy about his active role with SFAM? Alan says, “Being with the people and seeing happy volunteers and vendors is a highlight.” He concludes, “The market is a happy place and I enjoy being a part of keeping the spirit of the farmers’ market going.”
Happy anniversary, SFAM. Thank you to the dedicated and hard working SFAM committee, market day volunteers and the vendors that keep us coming back for more. We are fortunate to have this gathering place where white tents magically pop up every second Sunday from May through to September.
Steveston Farmers & Artisans Market
4111 Moncton Street
Richmond, BC V7E 3A8