Lytton’s Farmers Market comes with atmosphere

The Farmers Market in Lytton has some dedicated members and some pretty funky fans.

Like most communities, Lytton has a handful of organizations and groups that contribute to the social well-being of their community.

The Two Rivers Farmers’ Market is a group of colourful local farmers (and a few creative artisans, bakers and cooks) whose primary goal is to work together to bring fresh produce, crafts and homemade goods to the community.

The group especially has one thing in common: how hard they work to prepare for the Friday bazaar.

It’s almost an obsession for many of the 30 vendors that participate in the market.

They till the soil in the hot Lytton sun. They dirty their hands to plant the seed. They water and weed, fight off pests and predators, harvest and gather, and finally, they package their goods and transport them quickly to the market before everything wilts.

Then, they set up their display and endeavor to keep produce fresh-looking for up to five hours as customers purchase what their hands have created.

In fact, two of the biggest challenges for the market this year were the extreme hot weather (with temperatures hovering around 38°C) and the smoke from forest fires. Both vegetables and people wilted in the heat and smoke.

Every Friday from May until the end of October, an average of 15 vendors set up their displays under their small canopies on Fourth Ave. in downtown Lytton.

A small chess table is usually set up for an ongoing grudge match between several of the rival vendors.

Gordon Murray, volunteer president of the Lytton Farmers Market, says the market is able to help families in need through the Farmers Market Coupon Nutrition Program.

Funded by the Ministry of Health and administered by the local market, 25 low-income families and local elders get coupons every week that they can use to purchase nutritious fresh food at the local market.

The market works with community partners Lytton First Nation Health and the Lytton Food Bank, who choose the participants in the coupon program.

The program has been a huge benefit to both vendors and shoppers.

According to Murray, “mMore younger shoppers and more First Nations shoppers have become engaged in healthy eating and shopping because of the coupon program.

“In one family, the kids were excited to come and shop at the market and try new things like the multi-coloured carrots and striped beets that they had never seen before,” he said.

Vendors benefit financially from the fast-growing coupon program because hundreds of extra dollars flow into the market each week.

The coupons have made it viable for some vendors to sell produce at the Lytton market rather than travel two or more hours to other markets.

Murray continues: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there is a farming renaissance in Lytton, including people revitalizing family farms that have been idle for a generation.”

Buskers are a unique feature of the Lytton Market. Sometimes the music is so charming that both vendors and visitors dance around the carrots and flowers and onions in time to the music.

Some wonderful musicians have performed at the markets including Rio Samaya, a four-piece Spanish fusion band based in Vancouver; Willard Wallace, a talented performer from Merritt; and Gonzalo, a Latin troubadour travelling through Lytton from Chile.

The ambience is often magnetic, especially when the aroma of fresh bannock or apple fritters is added to the atmosphere.

Two great midweek night markets in Lytton’s “vertical park” were added this year, where the focus was on some amazing performers.

The first night market featured Paulet Rice from Spences Bridge, who has performed at numerous festivals. The second night market featured First Nation performers Sandy Scofield, Ronnie Dean Harris (a.k.a. Ostwelve) and Sam Bob from Vancouver, who were in Lytton to perform in Kevin Loring’s incredible new play Battle of the Birds.

Another undertaking of the Farmers Market was the Lytton Block Party on the May long weekend.

The Block Party had more than 200 people on the street dancing to the Ghengis Ghandis, which includes eight musicians from Ashcroft, Kamloops, Lytton and Lillooet, as well as an energizing performance by Enter-Tribal, a First Nations hip-hop duo from Vancouver.

“The Block Party also included our largest night market, with everything from fresh-cooked bannock, wildcrafted indigenous preserves, custom brewed tea blends and iced espresso to First Nations artwork such as beading, moccasins and cedar bracelets,” said Murray.

“With the market now closed for another season, we would like to thank all the shoppers, vendors, performers and volunteers that made this year fun and delicious,” he added.

There is no question that the Lytton Farmer’s market is a community hub that builds social, cultural and nutritional connections.

Many thanks to Gordon Murray and the many other volunteers who create a remarkable venue that unites and benefits our entire community.

Bernie Fandrich

Just Posted

Highway 1, crime and pipeline debated at Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon forum

Five candidates for the riding debated the issues Thursday in Abbotsford

Heated cross-riding clash at debate between NDP’s Nenn on stage, Conservative Fast in crowd

Candidates from different ridings show anger during Thursday’s all-candidates meeting in Abbotsford

RCMP officers recognized for fighting Ashcroft wildfire, taking down Hells Angels

Officers were recognized for fighting the 2017 Ashcroft fire and dismantling a Hells Angles ring

Advance voting in 2019 federal election begins

Voting at advance polling stations has become a popular choice in Canada over the years

Future remains unclear for Historic Hat Creek Ranch

Proposed one-year extension to site management agreement creates instability

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read