Gillian Hammond shows salad greens from Ragley Farm in East Sooke. The produce was sold at the Metchosin Village Market last Sunday

Gardens grow, market expands

Getting products ready for the market means getting a little dirty.

Gillian Hammond spends hours picking baby salad greens — each leaf, one by one. Previously she would have used a knife, but it caused the greens to oxidize sooner.

Two days after picking her greens, Hammond had them bagged in quarter-pound quantities for sale last Sunday at the Metchosin Village Market, a new venue meant to ease pressure from hobby farmers eager to sell the fruits of their labour.

“Having two markets is only going to benefit everyone,” said Hammond, an organizer of the village market, which is a product of the Metchosin Grassroots Collective. “Abundance brings abundance.”

The new market was created to complement the long-running Metchosin Farmers’ Market, not as a competitor, she said. The original market remains at the municipal grounds, while the upstart is at the old elementary site, across Happy Valley Road.

“This is just an expansion of the current market,” said Liz Cunningham, president of the Metchosin Grassroots Collective. “I can see this being a really cool thing to make Metchosin a destination for farm fresh produce.”

Last Sunday both markets drew about 15 vendors each, but in the peak of summer, the Metchosin Farmers’ Market will see 30 vying for space in the municipal grounds.

“It’s rare we turn someone away,” said Terry Sterling, president of the Metchosin Producers Association, which runs the 21-year Metchosin Farmers’ Market.

Sterling would not comment on the Metchosin Village Market until after MFA’s next board meeting.

For the village market, Hammond said organizers want to add an educational component to the market, including guest speakers, demonstrations and workshops throughout the summer.

Some ideas whirling around include hosting cooking demonstrations to show patrons how to cook food sold at the market.

“We will have different vendors and local crafters,” Hammond said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

While the growing season is just starting, Hammond said foods coming out of the ground now include kale, swiss chard, arugula, turnips and rhubarb. Next month should include beets, carrots and onions.

The Metchosin Village Market market runs each Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the old Metchosin elementary school grounds at 4495 Happy Valley Rd.

The Metchosin Farmers’ Market runs each Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the municipal grounds at 4450 Happy Valley Rd.



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