From May to October each year, Sunday mornings will see people of all ages converging in the parking lot behind the Kitsilano Community Centre.
While the community centre, one of Vancouver’s oldest (established in 1951 as the Kitsilano War Memorial Community Centre), offers great programming, it’s not yoga, pilates or skating the crowds want on Sunday mornings and afternoons. No, we’re here for the food.
More accurately, we’re here for the food, flowers, honey, bath products, jewellery, live music and company – as well as plenty of four-legged canine types to admire along the way. Little ones can have their faces painted, and budding and experienced gardeners alike can stop by the table where a master gardener or two are happy to dispense advice and information.
The Kitsilano Farmers Market draws people by foot, bike and car, and you’ll find a number of families taking advantage of the community centre playground and water park. Unless we’re loading up on a flat or two of berries from my favourite vendor, Belle, I like to walk to the market. It’s a lovely walk along tree-lined Connaught Park, and the walk can also help to burn off any treats that may tempt you on arrival.
There are a few vendors we particularly like, including the Creston couple who winter in Florida and return home to grow and sell gorgeous and tasty braids of garlic and much more. When we feel like treating ourselves to a tasty Sunday dessert without doing our own baking, we join the inevitable line up for pure bread, a Whistler-based bakery that’s featured in the New York Times’ 36 Hours in Whistler travel video feature. If you have opportunity to visit this bakery, at one of its storefronts or any of the farmers’ markets it graces, you’re in for great bread, squares, scones or whatever baked goods you choose.
My one can’t miss, however, is Abbotsford-based Paul’s Produce, where you’ll find Belle and team. Belle is a warm and efficient presence at the market, and she sells the best berries around. Blackberries that are ridiculously juicy. Raspberries to die for. Strawberries that are pink inside, and incredibly sweet. Blueberries that … well, you get the picture.
I use these Fraser Valley berries in smoothies, salads, desserts and to make jam, such as the batch you see on this page. On today’s visit to Paul’s Produce, I’ll also pick up some corn on the cob and other veggies for the week ahead.
If you go, you’re also likely to come across the work of Clare Van Eck, an artisan who markets her sculptural silver jewellery under the name Magpie’s Nest. Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, Clare’s presence at the market once or twice a month can create a bit of a traffic jam. You may see a crush of women awaiting their turns at her table. While I’ve purchased a necklace from Clare, the vintage typewriter key charms or pendants, pictured here, caught my eye. They make a lovely gift for anyone, but especially so for people whose career may have included a turn at the typewriter! The good news is that Clare ships her custom pieces out of province and country.
Market hours are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Here’s a look at just some of the treats in store at various times in the season.