White Rock Farmers Market Society president Margaret Woods says it’s a relief to once more be able to admit artisans – and other non-food vendors – to the market.
But she warns that applications from potential vendors should be submitted to the market website (whiterockfarmersmarket.ca) as soon as possible due to demand.
The most recent provincial health restrictions on non-food vendors were lifted March 19, following much lobbying from vendors and the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets.
Artisans, such as jewelry and soap makers, and also flower sellers are now permitted at the Sunday market – at the Miramar Plaza, adjacent to the White Rock Community Centre and the intersection of Johnston Road and Russell Avenue – from May 2 to Oct. 22.
“It’s so great,” Woods told Peace Arch News, agreeing that the presence of such vendors adds to the richness of the market experience.
“We’ve had a lot of people applying in hopes that the restrictions would be lifted,” she said, noting that, until the latest notification, the market had had to assume a return to the same conditions that applied when COVID restrictions were first imposed in March of 2020.
“We were basically back to where we were a year ago.”
The first non-food market ban lasted from early April to mid-June 2020, and a second provincial health order banning non-food vendors at farmers markets came into effect in mid-December 2020.
Woods noted that the presence of non-food vendors has depended on a relaxation of six-foot or two-metre separation restriction for stalls, provided that they are separated by a plexiglass screen or tent wall between them, for which vendors are responsible.
That means that in addition to the $30 annual membership in the society, individual vendors must also factor in the cost of at least one separating screen or tent wall, depending on the location of the stall in the market.
Woods said that the opening of the latest phase of the Miramar development has made more space available for vendors, although it is still quite limited by COVID restrictions on placement of stalls.
“We’ve got the new plaza, but we won’t be encroaching on all of it,” she said. “We’ll be able to back up to that plaza, but vendors backing up to the plaza will need walls at the back as well.”
But Woods said she is confident that all issues can be worked out, noting that since becoming society president last year, she has been impressed by the co-operative, family spirit of vendors who have striven to make everything work under the difficult circumstances of pandemic restrictions.
“They are so great, such nice people,” she said. “Everybody is so respectful.”
Application forms for vendors, with more detailed information on spaces available, can be found at whiterockfarmersmarket.ca