Paul Dwillies, the long-time co-ordinator of the Haney Farmers Market, is hanging up his woven hat.
Now in his 80s, Dwillies will retire after the last farmers market of the season, Nov. 12, at Grow and Gather Greenhouses, 24565 Dewdney Trunk Road, Maple Ridge, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Haney Farmers Market takes place on Saturdays, May to October in Memorial Peace Park, on 224th in downtown Maple Ridge. It moves undercover in autumn.
The Haney Farmers Market Society was created in 2004 to encourage a healthy community, striving to stimulate and support local economic initiatives, providing an opportunity for community groups and individuals to inform and entertain neighbours, as well as to celebrate the historic farming communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Dwillies joined the farmers market in Maple Ridge at the start as a bread vendor, then became co-coordinator. He designed the society’s logo.
“He has been doing the graphics for the market for all these years,” said Eileen Dwillies, executive director of the Haney Farmers Market.
“He has been instrumental in constructing all the signage; developing the process in which we operate in the park and at Grow and Gather for our autumn market location; repairing all the infrastructure; he designed the wrap that covers our trailer; built the interior of the trailer with shelves and walls to hold our equipment. He is currently building shelving and supports in the locker we have had to rent as all the market stuff in his garage has to be moved out.”
Paul Dwillies may be most known for the pear and brie stuffed baguettes he made for the bread booth he ran with his wife.
“People still talk about them,” she said.
But he has done so much more.
“On market day, once he has marked out the stall locations, he rolls out the electrical and connects all the vendors who ordered power, hooks up the water system to provide those who need water to our wash station, visits with every vendor on the site and checks their weights, tents, displays and has a nice chat with them all. They all love him for the time he takes with each one. He works well with the parks and leisure staff over broken sockets, damaged electrical, needles.”
He also patrols the market area and assists with any disturbance that might arise or fixes any broken item that may occur during the day.
“He welcomes returning customers and new shoppers as well as working with the children’s co-ordinator with special projects, such as the ‘Zucchini Race’ – the most popular game the children play. The Lego set was his idea and certainly is well used by the smaller children.”
However, he feels it is time for someone younger to carry on the work of the market co-ordinator.
“What I will miss most is the lively conversations I have had with the farmers and vendors over the years. They are an awesome group supporting the market through rain or shine, week after week,” he said.
“Paul is very special and it will be hard to find a replacement,” said Sandra Ramsay, chair of the Haney Farmers Market Society. “However, anyone interested can call our executive director.”
Eileen Dwillies said her husband is an inventor and will keep himself busy in retirement, working on a new style of telescope, as well as model trains.
“He is innovative, clever, industrious, willing, thoughtful, caring and it will be very hard to find someone who can take his place,” she said.
” We are just looking for someone who can begin to learn the ins and outs and then slowly work their way into the hearts of our volunteers and vendors as Paul did.”
• Eileen Dwillies remains executive director of the Haney Farmers Market. She can be reached at 604-467-8424.