If you haven’t dropped by the Grand Forks Farmers Market to meet with our farmers, this is a great time to do it! You will find over 25 different vegetables that are being picked each week by Boundary farmers.

Grand Forks Farmers Market has long history with the Boundary farmers

The Grand Forks Valley has a rich and varied history of vegetable and fruit production. From large commercial fields to small family gardens, our valley has produced millions of tonnes of food over the decades.

The first settlers established ranches and orchards by the early 1900’s. With the arrival of the Doukhobors came the development of huge tracts of land into orchards, vegetable and berry fields. Boxcars of fruit were shipped by rail to the prairie provinces in the first half of the 20th century. Berry and fruit jams were made in the local jam factory. The original owners of the Deane Farm property were Japanese settlers who grew carrots and onions for seed. The barns on their property were built by the family at least 100 years ago. These settlers were originally boat builders and the big barn still standing looks like an upside down boat. Other farmers established market gardens and greenhouse operations. The North Fork Valley had numerous family ranches flourishing by this time. The valley was largely food self-sufficient during these years.

During the 1940’s some of the land was used for vegetable and flower seed production to fill the gap caused by the devastation of seed fields in Europe during the Second World War. By the mid 20th century farmers were establishing fields into potatoes, onions, cabbage, and cauliflower. Grand Forks became well known for their “Dry Belt Potatoes”. The Lodder, Hove, Abetkoff, Sugimoto, Ogloff, Marchal, and Gritchen families along with others grew potato farming into a major agricultural industry in the valley. This legacy continues to this day.

The tradition of family vegetable gardens and orchards has always been part of the Grand Forks mosaic. By the latter part of the 20th century many people had drifted away from the family tended vegetable plots and relied on the supermarkets for more and more of their fresh produce needs. The massive production of corporate farms, largely in California, has slowly taken over the vegetable section of our supermarkets. Now in the 21st century, climate change, droughts, and floods are drastically reducing the food that can be produced in many parts of the world. It’s time to look to our local food producers to return to the self-sufficiency this valley enjoyed 75 years ago.

By the 1980’s a few people came together to sell produce on the sidwalk in front of the Grand Forks Credit Union, currently the Dave Dale Insurance office. The market had moved behind the court house by 1988 when Deane Farms joined. In the mid-1990’s the market relocated to City park and Ann Casey became the first official market manager. From humble beginnings, the market has grown to a twice a week market with farmers, ranchers, and artisans from Christina Lake to the Christian Valley gathering at Gyro Park every Tuesday and Friday from May to October.

The Grand Forks Farmers Market is an essential part of local food security. It provides an outlet for our farmers to sell their vegetables and fruits in a central location. A dedicated group of volunteers follow the rules and guidelines of the BC Farmers Market Association to keep the market running smoothly and serving the needs of farmers and shoppers alike.

Being a vegetable farmer in the Boundary isn’t for the faint-of-heart, but it is a very rewarding profession. With each year we learn from the past and face new challenges. Unpredictable weather patterns is our biggest concern in this time of climate change. Our crops must adapt to temperature and moisture extremes, while still maintaining the excellent quality Grand Forks is known for. Some farmers have gone to cold-frames and greenhouses to extend the season and provide security from frost, hail, and extreme temperatures. New varieties are tested, mulching practices are implemented to retain moisture, and better pruning methods are used to control heat damage. The market is thrilled to see new young farmers developing their growing skills and expanding the market with their enthusiasm and creativity.

Our market is blessed to have the support of the local community and seasonal visitors every year. More and more families are discovering how delicious local produce tastes and how much longer it will keep fresh after they bring it home. Foreign corporate farms focus on vegetable varieties that can be machine harvested and shipped long distances. Our local farmers choose varieties with the best flavours. Without the extreme expense of transporting produce for thousands of miles, the cost of locally grown produce is competitive to supermarket pricing.

If you haven’t dropped by the Grand Forks Farmers Market to meet with our farmers, this is a great time to do it! You will find over 25 different vegetables that are being picked each week by Boundary farmers. Lots more varieties of vegetables will start soon. If you are finding it hard to stretch your budget to include healthy fresh vegetables and fruits, stop by the market. We know you will be pleased with your shopping.