Faces of Quesnel Farmers’ Market

Quesnel Farmers' Market vendors and founders win B.C. award

Cathie Allen and Rob Borsato are proud of Quesnel Farmers’ Market and their role in its development.

Cathie Allen and Rob Borsato are proud of Quesnel Farmers’ Market and their role in its development.

The winners of the BC Farmers’ Markets Awards for 2015 were announced Saturday, Feb, 21 at the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) Conference in Cowichan Bay. One of Quesnel Farmers’ Market’s founder and vendor was selected as Market Vendor of the Year. Mackin Creek Farm, owned and operated by Rob Borsato and Cathie Allen took home the award.

Their certified organic farm, south of Quesnel near Soda Creek, has been operating since the late 1980s.

Warm, hardworking, supportive and committed to providing quality fresh product, Mackin Creek Farm is a great example of what it means to attend a farmers’ market in B.C.

“It’s wonderful to see such passion and dedication to local food and farmers’ markets,” Elizabeth Quinn, BCAFM executive director said.

“The gala is a great opportunity to celebrate the growing food sector, acknowledge our achievements and recognize those who are making strides in our local communities. Our winners are creating opportunities, building communities, shifting perceptions and shaping the experience of what it means to attend a farmers’ market in B.C.”

Both Borsato and Allen have been an integral part of Quesnel’s Farmers’ Market since its inception and continue to be a driving force both in the boardroom and on site.

“For both my partner Cathie and I, this award is equally delightful and humbling. We are very pleased to be recognized in this way, especially as we near 30 years of connection with our Farmers’ Market, 30 years ‘in the trenches’ and happily, still in the trenches. And as we reflect on all of the people that have helped make this happen, we are truly humbled,” Borsato  said of their commitment to Quesnel Farmers’ Market.

“First of all, we must thank our son Joe, and my sister Elena, who have both been part of this operation from the very beginning. In fact, they are the ones doing most of the work on Saturday mornings serving Market customers, while I get lost in networking with everyone.”

He went on to say how they owe such a debt of gratitude to their customers, all of the loyal citizens who support the Quesnel Farmers’ Market religiously.

“As we look back over these three decades, we still appreciate the foresight, the energy and the support that helped create the Quesnel Farmers’ Market,” he said.

“People like Les and Shirley Gardner, Bruce and Colleen Brigden, Laurie and Penny Currie, Maggie and Paul Dumais, Murray Boal and Janet Allen all shared a vision and worked toward creating the Market that we have today. These people continue to be an inspiration for us.”

The connections reach far beyond the community, he added. “We were lucky to be part of a renewed movement in the late 1980’s that brought together many back-to-the-landers, community activists and a general reawakening or reconnecting of wholesome food and health. Within this milieu, we believed anything could happen,” Borsato  said.

“Farmers’ Markets were popping up like spring tulips. Cathie and I, along with Maggie and Paul Dumais, can clearly remember participating at a meeting in Kamloops in the early 90’s at which the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets was created.”

The concept of farmers’ markets is a hard one not to like, he commented.

“All the local, fresh food, handcrafted items and shoppers interacting face to face, all in a pleasant surrounding – what a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

“We in Quesnel have been so fortunate to have such a beautiful setting for our Market; I don’t know of another in the province that is as ideal. This award helps bring attention and awareness to our Market, and to all northern farmers’ markets, which are easily overlooked by the vast numbers of markets on the Island, the Lower Mainland, and all through the Okanagan. We want to thank everyone who helped make it happen.”

The Farmers’ Market Awards Gala was part of the 2015 BCAFM Conference, Thrive which ran from Feb. 20 to 22.

For information visit the BCAFM website at www.bcfarmersmarket.org or call 604-734-9797. The BCAFM is a not-for-profit association that represents more than 125 farmers’ markets across the province and works to support, develop and promote farmers’ markets in all regions of B.C.