Sunday Farmers’ Market comes to Saanich

Starting Sunday, Saanich finally gets a farmers’ market of its own

The Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market is a long time coming, a surprising first for a city that is deeply tied to its agricultural roots.

The non-profit market starts this Sunday (July 2) and will run every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the lacrosse box of the Braefoot Community Association.

There’ll be produce from local farms, hot food, artisan crafts, drinks, wine, spirits and music.

More than 50 vendors have signed on, with more than 25 expected for the market’s launch this weekend. Of course, that includes several farms from Saanich such as Red Damsel and Northstar Organics. Wine and spirits will be on hand from Central Saanich distiller De Vine Vineyards and wine from Silverside Farm and Winery. There’s food trucks, too, showing up at various dates throughout the summer such as Saanich’s Juma, the Hungry Rooster and Kardum Valley Country Crepes. Performer Morien Jones will take the stage this week.

“Vendors are still signing up, we’ve had tremendous interest,” said co-founder Marsha Henderson, president of the Royal Oak Community Association.

Henderson and Shawn Newby, the vice-president of the Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association, had worked with Saanich council dating back nearly two years to amend the bylaws which restrict pop-up markets. Their goal was to start their own farmers’ market but also to encourage others in Saanich.

However, the process was taking too long. Instead, the two secured a temporary use permit at Braefoot. It means for now, they’ve got the Saanich farmers’ market cornered.

“It’s good for three years, and can be renewed once,” Henderson said. “And it gives us a chance to see how it goes. We [assume] the bylaw will be amended in six years.”

The original plan was to hold the market at the Reynolds secondary parking lot. However, that proved a touch trickier than previously thought, Newby said.

“We’re lucky to have Braefoot Community Association on board, they’ve been very supportive in giving us the time slot and other help to make this happen,” said Newby.

This new market is based on the successful Esquimalt and Sidney farmers markets. It’s almost ironic that Saanich, a city that prides itself on the balance of agriculture and urban uses, has been without a market while Victoria boasts three prominent markets in Moss Street, James Bay and the Oaklands’ Sunset Market. It’s also worth noting the Saanich Sunday Farmers’ Market is technically the first of the modern era, though there were likely plenty of weekly markets in Saanich’s past.