The Nelson Farmers’ Market will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays to better appeal to people who want to visit the market at Cottonwood Park after work.
And it won’t be moving back to Baker Street this year.
Those were two of the highlights of a presentation by Jordan Martin, manager of the Nelson and District Youth Centre, at Nelson City Council’s May 25 meeting.
“Last year we did not see as much traction as we would have liked (on Wednesdays),” she told council, “but this year I believe with (these new hours) we can catch those people who work normal business hours, or who can’t make it down at 9 a.m.”
Since the spring of 2020, the markets have been run by the youth centre that in turn is run by the city. Last year the market employed 10 youth.
Martin said an increased presence of food vendors will help Wednesday attendance also.
“Last year on a survey people said they really wanted food vendors and the goal this year is to bring in a variety of different foods.”
She said she hopes the changed hours will see increased Wednesday vendor attendance as well.
Martin said this year’s markets, which have been running since May 9, have more than 41 Saturday vendors, matching the peak season numbers last year, and she expects another 10 eventually.
Last year’s market provided $40,000 worth of market coupons to families, pregnant people, and seniors through a provincial government program that will continue this year.
Martin said there is still no live music because it would create gatherings and the BC Centre for Disease Control still wants markets in which people “shop don’t stop.”
As health orders relax she said buskers might appear in the market.
The city’s chief financial officer Colin McClure said a new washroom will be built at the market this year and electrical service for the vendors will be completed. Improvements to parking might have to wait until next year, he said.
Councillor Rik Logtenberg asked if the market will be moving to Baker Street once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Martin said she recommends that this not happen in 2021 because it would disrupt the market season, and the timing and progress of pandemic back-to-normal is unpredictable. She said there is currently no Wednesday location plan for 2022.
Councillor Keith Page urged early consultations with Baker Street businesses, and Martin said she expects to wait until the fall for such discussions.
Martin, who had never run a farmers’ market before being suddenly thrust into the job last year when the city took over the markets and handed them to the youth centre, said she has begun a professional mentorship with the head of the market in the Comox Valley, which she describes as “one of the most vibrant farmers’ markets in B.C.”