As the White Rock Farmers’ Market approaches the end of its season, organizer David Hawkins said keeping the market open this year was not without its challenges.
There are two days left for the seasonal outdoor market, located at the corner of Johnston Road and Russell Avenue. The market is open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We’ve had, as you can imagine, a really tough year with the pandemic and the construction,” Hawkins said. “It’s been very tough for our vendors, but they’ve done a marvellous job.”
Vendors set up in the Miramar Plaza, which is still under construction.
Staff introduced social distancing measures and adopted a “shop – don’t stop” policy.
Still, Hawkins said, attracting customers has proven to be a challenge as many stay away due to COVID-19.
“In terms of the visitors to the market, obviously the pandemic has been very scary to people. We had to introduce a six-foot spacing and divided the site up,” Hawkins said. “We’ve had to change the flow of people so that it goes clockwise around the site. Our vendors have been showing up but there’s been reduced demand simply because of reduced traffic.”
Anderson Organic Farms owner Joseph Blades, who lives in Harrison Hot Springs, is a regular vendor at the market. He too has noticed a drop in customers, but says the outdoor market is one of the safest place to purchase groceries.
“It’s an essential service,” Blades said. “I feel the Farmers Market is really well received. We have a lot of regular customers that come there, that have been coming over a decade. People are following all of the protocols.”
One protocol that has had a drawback, Blades added, is that customers are no longer allowed to sample a product before they purchase it.
Hawkins said there has been demand for the market to co-ordinate some type of Christmas-style fair, but organizers are unable to deliver.
“Many of those vendors, particularly the craft vendors, used to look forward to Christmas markets and fairs where people would buy presents for Christmas. They were asking us if we can arrange it, and we just can’t do it. We’re fully stretched.”
The last market of the season is to be held Oct. 25.