BC Association of Farmers Markets members have approved a special resolution to permit food vendors based within Canada but outside BC to sell at farmers markets in the province.
The resolution, passed at the association’s annual general meeting March 2, will benefit markets near the Alberta border. Several markets have faced a limited selection of vendors since BCAFM bylaws changed three years ago preventing them from having non-BC vendors.
The change will allow “a Person or Organization that is not located within British Columbia, or whose food products are not grown, made, baked, raised or wild harvested within British Columbia but who is located in Canada not more than 300 kilometres” from the market where it intends to sell its food products to be a vendor at said market. The vendor must sell only food produced within 300 km of the market.
The motion would permit vendors from as far east as Calgary to sell in Revelstoke, for example, or a vendor from east of Lethbridge to sell in Fernie. Elkford and Sparwood, which left the association because of the restrictions on vendors, could host vendors from as far east as Medicine Hat.
BCAFM members also approved a resolution legalizing online markets, providing all items and vendors are from BC. Bylaws previously prohibited exclusively online markets, but some association members found this was the only way they could operate under public health restrictions in 2020.
Restrictions designed to fight COVID19 continue, however.
Many of the four dozen attendees at the online meeting expressed concern over restrictions on flower and wool vendors as part of the provincial health order barring non-food vendors from markets. An online petition launched by the Front Yard Flower Co. of Vancouver is asking provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to permit non-food vendors soaps, fibres such as wool, flowers and artisan crafts at outdoor markets. It has gathered more than 6,500 signatures to date.
BC agriculture minister Lana Popham says the province is listening.
“We’re working on that and hopefully we’ll have some news soon,” she told the Certified Organic Associations of BC at its annual conference this past weekend.
With files from Barbara Johnstone Grimmer