Esquimalt Farmers Market named top in B.C.

Executive director Katrina Dwulit also honoured as market manager of the year

When the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets descended upon Victoria for the Growing Together conference this weekend, Katrina Dwulit, executive director of the Esquimalt Farmers Market, was just happy to be in a room full of like-minded people.

It turns out, those people were equally as inspired to be in a room with her, as the Esquimalt Farmers Market (EFM) was named the 2017 BC Farmer’s Market of the year and Dwulit walked away with top honours as the market manager of the year.

“It’s a complete shock,” Dwulit says. “I know some the other nominees and they are incredible people doing incredible things, as everyone working in food security is.”

The Esquimalt resident and mother of three founded the market back in 2014 with a mandate to “promote healthy and local living, build relationships and encourage environmental and economic sustainability in Esquimalt.”

A self-proclaimed “backyard grower” Dwulit says she’s always been a proponent of local food. “I think being a part of a chain of food security should be on everyone’s radar.”

The food-focused market essentially runs year-round. From late fall to early spring, pop-up markets at the Esquimalt Rec Centre keep local food on the community’s plate. Then, from May to September, the outdoor market sets up Thursdays in Memorial Park (1200 Esquimalt Rd.) from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Live music, food trucks, artisan crafters and of course farmers, are always on the list of rotating vendors. “We’re kind of an urban market,” says Dwulit, whose team includes a slew of volunteers and a board of directors.

“I work with the most incredible people,” she explains. “It’s so much fun. I love every second of the learning I’m doing with the passionate people I’m around.”

That passion extends to the local growers, who always take precedent when the team sits down to organize each week’s line-up.

“Farmer first always,” says Dwulit, and in an effort to thank them for growing local food, the market charges farmers half price for their stalls.

As the team prepares for the 2018 outdoor season, the goal is to strive toward a zero waste market. Dwulit hopes to see more reusable coffee cups, food containers and mason jars and less plastic. The EFM will also expand their merchandise this year, offering produce bags in order to practice “the actual true word of sustainability and not the trendy, green term,” she says.

Reducing the carbon footprint also remains a goal because as Dwulit points out, a carrot picked today has a lot more nutrients that one picked weeks ago and shipped in.

“We live on an island that has the most idyllic growing temperatures out there,” she says. “We can farm year-round here, and we have skilled people who can do this. We’ll actually be healthier, smarter people because of it.”

Visit EsquimaltMarket.com for more information on market season; the next indoor pop-up market is scheduled for March 29 at Esquimalt Rec Centre.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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