Spring is just around the corner—although it looks like it has already begun in Victoria. With spring comes farmers markets, which are fun places to spend a sunny afternoon listening to local musicians, eating awesome food, and of course, meeting local farmers and artisans. Hitting up a weekly market is one of the best ways to stock your kitchen with fresh food grown and produced right on the island—as well as getting exercise and taking in some cool facts about the city!
Now in its 24th season, this market runs year-round and boasts over 90 vendors. Of these, there are 25 farms providing everything from fruit, vegetables, and seeds, to honey, meat, and fish. Many of the farms are recognized by the Islands Organic Producers Association (IOPA), a non-profit organization that certifies organic farms on the island. You will also find a multitude of craft and food vendors selling things like jewelry, housewares, baked goods, and cheese. Beacon Hill Park and Ross Bay Cemetery are both a relatively short walk away.
Did you know: the name Beacon Hill Park comes, aptly, from navigational beacons that used to sit on top of the hill. Ross Bay Cemetery is the final resting place of many interesting historical figures like Emily Carr, Billy Barker, and Robert Dunsmuir.
Winter season: located at Garry Oak Room, 1335 Thurlow St., Nov. through April, Sat., 10 a.m.–12 p.m. Regular season: located at Sir James Douglas School grounds, Moss St. at Fairfield Rd., May through Oct., Sat., 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
This year-round market, located in the old Hudson’s Bay Building, is anchored by a local grocer selling items from the island as well as other vendors selling cheese, pies, meat products, spices, and kitchen ware. Be sure to head over on Farmers Market days as even more vendors are selling fresh food. While you’re there, check out the Urban Farmers Alliance. Their produce comes from backyards and lots in the immediate vicinity, within a 15 km radius of the market.
Did you know: Victoria’s Chinatown (Fisgard and Government) is one of the oldest in North America, second only to San Francisco. Take a walk down Fan Tan Alley—the narrowest street in Canada.
#6-1701 Douglas St., Tues.–Sat., 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Sun., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Farmers Market hours: Weds., Sat., and Sun., 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Starting with a small city grant in 1995, the James Bay Community Market is now self-sufficient and regularly draws over 50 vendors. Last year’s market had a variety of merchants selling art, jewelry, body care, baking, canning, and coffee. Several farm stalls were present including Saanich Organics—a collective of IOPA-recognized farms. Check out Saanich Organics to learn about their weekly produce box delivery—a great way to eat farm fresh if you aren’t able to make it to the market.
The Robert Bateman Centre at the Steamship Terminal is a short stroll down Menzies to Belleville.
Did you know: The Steamship Terminal, Legislative Buildings, and the Empress Hotel (as well as several other buildings in Victoria) were designed by Francis Rattenbury. His contributions to the history of B.C. as well as his sordid personal life (complete with tales of lost fortune, murder, and suicide) are worth a read.
Corner of Menzies and Superior St., May 2–Oct. 10, Sat. 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
The Sunday market has a higher presence of local farms and foods while other days are more focused on local artisans and crafters. Sunday is not only a great day to buy fresh produce, preserves, and baking, but also to support the “Artist of the Day.” Each Sunday, a new booth is chosen and given a high-traffic space as well as display materials to help local artists show off their work. If you have a chance, look for the markers and paving stones that outline the original Fort Victoria.
Did you know: the Irish Times Pub (originally the Bank of Montreal) is also a Rattenbury design. The Bard and Banker is named after the poet Robert Service who used to work there as a teller when it was the Canadian Bank of Commerce. This area is also fun to check out at night—it is notoriously haunted!
30 Bastion Sq. Government and View, Apr. 30–Sept., Thurs., Fri., Sat., 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m., and Sun., 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Established in 2012, this market is growing steadily. Over 50 tents are expected in the summer with vendors selling fresh produce (IOPA farms), prepared food, arts, and crafts. On some market nights there is a beer garden. As of this year, there will be tasting and bottle sales from local cider-houses, wineries, and breweries during beer garden off-nights. This market is on Belmont Avenue near Hillside.
Did you know: can you imagine that this whole area used to be farmland? Hillside Avenue was named after Hillside Farm, owned by John Wark (who is the namesake of another street in Victoria).
Oaklands Community Centre, #1-2827 Belmont Ave., June 24–Sept. 2 (except July 1), Wed., 4:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.