Farmers markets are becoming tourist attractions as well as supporting local food production. (Black Press files)

B.C. farm markets look to expand tourist trail program

Coupons give low-income people access to fresh produce

It worked for B.C. wineries, and it’s working for farmers’ markets.

B.C.’s Farm Market Trail has been successful in its first phase of agri-tourism marketing, a 20-stop tour of the Kootenay Rockies and Columbia Basin region, and hopes to develop similar tours in the rest of the province.

The B.C. Association of Farmers Markets made its pitch for marketing support to the B.C. legislature finance committee as its tour wound up in Surrey on Thursday. Association executive director Heather O’Hara said creating winery-style tours is the next step for the association, which has members doing individual tourism promotion across the province.

The association has 23 members in the Kootenay Rockies, four in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Coast region, eight in the Fraser Valley, 20 in Metro Vancouver, 14 in northern B.C., and 27 in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Its biggest membership region, with 32 farm markets, is Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, home of Saanich farmer-turned-Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. Popham has been aggressively promoting local food production, reviving the Buy B.C. marketing campaign and pushing for more locally sourced produce for health facilities and other provincial operations.

Another program delivered by the association is nutrition coupons for low-income seniors and families, allowing them to socialize and shop at farmers markets. Supported by donations from local farmers and other private supporters, the program started in 2007 with funding from five regional health authorities.

With direct support from the health ministry since 2012, coupons are now distributed in 57 communities and is expected to reach 3,900 households this year.

O’Hara told MLAs the program has a budget of $1.4 million this year, and would like to double its size to get the best local nutrition to people who can’t afford it.

The finance committee toured the province in recent weeks to hear a wide variety of appeals for provincial support. Its recommendations go to Finance Minister Carole James for consideration in the next B.C. budget, to be presented in February.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Quesnel’s Team Waffle scores a berth in Provincial Championships

His team is excited to play on home ice in the West Fraser Centre in January

Will snow fall before Christmas Day in Quesnel?

Environment Canada currently predicts: Yes

South Cariboo man will face trial in 2017 Williams Lake bank robbery

Christopher Michael Swain faces one count of robbery and wearing a disguise

Review: A Christmas Carol dramatic reading in Quesnel

Marian Gillard reviews the QDAC/QLA production

Quesnel business foots the bill for Salvation Army’s Christmas dinner

City Furniture donates turkey and trimmings for charity’s event in Quesnel and Williams Lake

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

Most Read