The last Haney Farmers Market of the season happened on Saturday, and the new organizer says it has been a good year.
Melissa Maltais is the executive director of the market, after the retirement of Eileen Dwillies, who with her husband Paul had been involved in the market for about 15 years.
“It’s been great,” said Maltais of the first year. “It’s been a transition year for us, for sure.”
She said next year the market will be a greater advocate for fresh produce, and will offer community events where people can learn to use a pressure cooker, freeze produce and more.
“We want community kitchen workshops. The kind of day where people can leave with jars of jam,” said Maltais. “We want to build up food skills.”
Maltais has worked for the farmers market in New Westminster, and said by comparison there was more focus on bulk food sales there than at Haney’s market. People would buy 20 pounds of green beans and freeze them, or bring home a box of tomatoes to can sauce.
“It’s about getting that food while it’s at its peak freshness.”
Maltais said people should notice a significant difference by buying fresh produce at the market, in that it will last longer. A bunch of kale could last for three weeks in the fridge, she said.
“It’s about teaching people how to maximize the freshness of local food.”
She would also like to engage children more, with a kids club that could offer mini cooking classes.
The strengths at Maple Ridge market, from her newcomer’s perspective, are the support of the city, and the number of community groups with events that work alongside the market.
“How everything really ties in community-wise has just been excellent,” she said.
And, she said there is a great stable of vendors who bring a big variety of wares.
The market runs each year for about six months, from May until November.