The motto for the Esquimalt Farmers Market is that they are “worth crossing the bridge for” and I can personally attest to this. I had been a resident in Greater Victoria for nearly 15 years before my first visit to the Esquimalt Farmers Market. I was not disappointed. And quite frankly, wondered what had taken me so long to check this market out.
Parking was initially a challenge because you can see the market from Esquimalt Road but it is not abundantly clear where to park. I drove around for a few minutes, passed a few “residents’ only parking” roads and finally found a spot conveniently located a couple blocks from the market. In the end, it was super simple to find and now I know for next time. If you’re not sure where to park, refer to their website or Facebook page for a parking map.
Esquimalt holds their market outdoors at Memorial Park from May through September and indoors at the Esquimalt Rec Centre from fall through spring. In 2020 they are moving to Bullen Park to facilitate social distancing due to Covid-19. Which will also make parking easier.
When I entered the market, my senses were immediately delighted by the colourful fresh fruits and veggies and the smell of delicious foods cooking in the food trucks. Throughout the market, numerous vendors offer free samples which I really appreciate. On my recent visit, I tried kombucha for the first time today along with some pineapple jam and Wayward spirits made from BC honey.
I’m glad I tried kombucha because I had been seeing it everywhere lately and had no idea it was a fermented tea. As for the liqueur made from BC honey, I think that is going to make a fantastic hot apple cider when the weather is cooler.
One thing I didn’t consider before I went to the market was that I had recently got groceries and had very little room in my fridge for more. Next time I’ll be more prepared.
What impressed me about the market was the variety and quality of the merchants. One vendor told me that this market is one of the best markets in the area and hard to get into. The market has high standards, supporting local growers and producers with a make, bake or grow philosophy. The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets awarded Esquimalt the Best Farmers’ Market and Market Manager in 2017 and Best Farmers' Market (Large) again in 2018 which is a magnificent feat for an organization that has only been running since 2015.
While at the market, I stopped by The Zone 91.3 booth to enter a ballot for an Esquimalt Farmers’ Market prize pack. To my absolute delight I was a winner and was presented with a gift of a burlap market bag, dinner and chocolate. Dinner was compliments of Farms Gate Foods + Catering where they loaded me up with one of everything on the menu, Chocolate and truffles came from Uncouth Chocolate. All the food was pure delight to the taste buds. Be sure to give them a try if you see them at the market.
Finally, though, I met two artisans that stood out for me. Mixed Metal Mimi has a wonderful story of how she sources her raw materials from which she makes beautiful, unique jewellery pieces. I’m in love with nearly everything at her booth!
The other craftsperson is Melissa Labelle from wychbury ave. All of her work is special – natural, vegan and made by hand – but I have a passion for crochet and her work is beautiful. My favourite was the birthday banner. Who needs cheap plastic banners from the dollar store when such a great looking, reusable alternative exists.
Am I ever glad I’ve made the commitment to get out and explore Victoria because finding gems like the Esquimalt Farmers’ Market and all the great people I met are so worth it.
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