osoyoos FARMERS' market

Farmers' market is popular Saturday morning outing

Around 8 a.m. on a summer Saturday morning, vendors are busy setting up for the Osoyoos Farmers’ Market (formerly Osoyoos Market on Main.)

The market runs from early May right through to the end of September, or in the case of 2023, to Oct. 7.

It’s held in the Town Square park next to town hall on Main Street. Most vendors set up canopy tents to provide shade in the blistering summer sun.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine.

Matt Leyes and Ravina Johal, owners of Black Sage Butcher in Oliver, show some of their meat products. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Janis St. Louis is president of Osoyoos Farmers’ Market board of directors. She also has a booth selling t-shirts with her artwork representing Osoyoos. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Vendors set up canopy tents at Town Square in downtown Osoyoos for the Saturday morning Osoyoos Farmers’ Market. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Crafts and produce must be locally made or grown. The majority of vendors sell a variety of crafts and handmade items. But there are also farmers selling fresh fruits and vegetables they’ve grown.

“We’re a bona fide farmers’ market, meaning we’re a member of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets,” says Janis St. Louis, president of the market’s board of directors.

“To do that, we have to follow certain rules,” she adds. “Everyone who’s here has to either make, bake, or grow the product they’re selling. So if somebody is selling pickles, they made them themselves.”

Osoyoos photographer Greg Reely sets up a grid in his booth while his wife Anne Marie does the heavy lifting. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The market is run by a volunteer board of directors, made up of vendors, who typically take on a responsibility such as looking after social media, bookkeeping, or organizing vendors.

The only paid position is the market manager, a role currently held by St. Louis’s husband, Marcel. He arrives early to prepare the site, oversee the vendors setting up, and collect their fees. He occasionally takes on a security role, in the rare event of visitors causing problems.

Would-be vendors must apply and be accepted. Some pay for the entire season; others get punch cards to pay for five markets at a time. Still others pay as they go each week.

Jonna Booth shows off the handmade “stuffies” she crochets of cartoon characters. The blue dragon was her favourite and took well over 100 hours to make. She sold it the following week. (Richard McGuire Photo)

It was the first year at the market in 2022 for Jonna Booth, who runs Handmade Stuffies and Things. She crochets toy animals based on cartoon characters from Looney Tunes, Pokémon and elsewhere. She estimates she’s made more than 200 since she started five years ago.

“I found this market awesome,” says Booth. “Everybody here is wonderful and so are the patrons… This is my first year, but it’s a wonderful experience and I would definitely do it again.”

Roy Bainbridge was in his second year at the market in 2022 running his business, Five Sets of Hands. Originally there were about five people – relatives and friends – involved, but now he does most of it himself.

He sells everything from dog treats to moisturizing cream to arthritis cream, room sprays and even walking sticks from wood on his property.

“These are all things that mean something to me,” he says, adding that he has a dog, arthritis, and dry skin.

He’s happy with the market.

“I like it a lot,” he says. “It’s a nice, small market. Perfect for me.”

There are several farmers selling fruits and vegetables they’ve grown.

Wayne Pendergraft, who farms on the Osoyoos East Bench, has been selling fruit for 15 years at Market on Main, with help from his daughters. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Among them are Wayne Pendergraft, who farms on the Osoyoos East Bench and has been coming to the market for 14 years. Often his daughters look after the booth.

Gurinder Singh Buttar was doing his very first market that August morning, selling fruit he grows on his farm south of Oliver.

“I’m really happy to be here,” he says. “People are really nice and so helpful. The atmosphere is really good, music going on… I love it here. I didn’t expect this much happiness here. It’s such a great place to be.”

The following Saturday, he sold out all his fruit and vegetables about an hour before closing.

Su Wolfe often entertains at the market, singing “vintage” songs from the 1930s to 1950s, such as wartime songs by Vera Lynn. She also has a booth selling farm products with her husband Chris and she coordinates vendors. (Richard McGuire Photo)

One of the attractions of the market is the live music often.

On an August Saturday in 2022, Roland Berg was strumming an electric guitar and singing popular songs from the 1970s and ’80s. Berg unfortunately passed away not long afterwards.

Another popular performer is Su Wolfe, of Flip Flop Farms near Cawston, who runs a booth with her husband Chris and is also in charge of vendors.

She sings “vintage” songs, mostly from the 1930s to 1950s. Many are wartime songs from such English singers as Vera Lynn.

“To me, it’s real music,” she says. “It tells a story. There’s a lot of emotion behind it. I just don’t think they make songs like they used to.”

Noel Berkland, winemaker with La Casa Blanca, pours a sample for a visitor at the Osoyoos Farmers’ Market. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Especially in the summer, visitors come from throughout the Okanagan Valley, the Lower Mainland, Alberta, and even farther afield – some from Europe.

But a lot of locals also make Market on Main part of their summer Saturday morning routine, dropping by to shop and socialize. Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff is one such regular visitor.

Janis St. Louis, the president of the board of directors, notes that Market on Main has been running since 2006 and has seen expansion over the years. Besides the addition of the Tuesday evening market, there are also plans for pre-Christmas markets at the Legion Hall in October and November.

“It’s a fun place to be,” she says. “If you want to just come down and have a look around, have a coffee, and enjoy and visit some of your neighbours – we have people that meet here regularly on Saturdays.”

Contact

EMAIL

osoyoosmarketonmain@hotmail.com

Town Square (east of Town Hall)

Osoyoos, BC  V0H 1V0