Wednesday, August 5, 2009

front porch farmers' markets


A farmer's life is feast or famine. During the long hot days of summer, crops are flourishing and farmers' markets gathering twice a week to sell the bounty. Any harvest a farm can't sell now, will go to waste, or if another few hours can be found at the end of a 16hr day, maybe a few surplus raspberries will get frozen for winter sale. Come winter though, farmers markets dwindle and local fresh food becomes less abundant—what a farmer makes in the summer better carry the cost of farm and family through the rest of the year.

Front porches all over Greater Vancouver are joining a movement to smooth out the feast and the famine farmers experience by becoming 'mini farmers markets' every week. Yes, that's right, front porches--and car ports and even play houses are being converted for a few hours every week into pick-up spots for those ordering their foods through an on-line farmers market. Established by a group of loyal local foodies and farmers market groupies, NOWBC Co-op (Neighbours Organic Weekly) has organized this on-line farmers market and neighbourhood delivery system. By scooping the summer's excess and bringing farmers' bounty to any neighbourhood in the city where it is wanted, when the feast is on, the co-op can help farmers reach more people and get all of their food sold.

“There is no farmers market here, the closest is Kits, but with the kids and busy weekends, I just don't get there.” says Joanna Michal of Dunbar, who gets food through NOWBC. Now it doesn't matter whether there's a farmers market near a person, or if a person is available during the hours a market is open, they can still get food from these small local farms through a front porch near them. And it doesn't stop at the end of the summer. When the feast is over, the on-line farmers market continues running year round--because farmers keep farming, even in winter here. “We're getting ready to to transplant our fall and winter crops of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards and brussels sprouts” Christopher Bodnar of Glen Valley Organic Farm reports. Though winter crops may be less plentiful, there is still harvest, just very few places to sell it. “One of the challenges for small-scale farms is finding appropriate outlets to market their products.” says Bodnar.

NOWBC Co-op is a 50% volunteer run co-op interested in sustainable foods, the 100 mile diet and supporting our local organic growers. There are currently 25 of these pick-up spots around and about the city, and the number is growing. Front porches have been volunteered in Mt Pleasant, Riley Park, North Van, Dunbar, UBC, Fairview, Renfrew Heights, Commercial Drive, Coquitlam, New West—you name it. To check-out the on-line market and look for one of these farmers market drop-offs, or start one in your own neighbourhood, go to or email

Meg O'Shea orders food from NOWBC's on-line farmers market, “I choose to buy through NOWBC because I know the organization has done my homework for me, selecting farmers and producers who supply local, organic, REAL food.”

For more information contact:

Joanna Michal - 604-222-0262
NOWBC Co-op Community Outreach

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