Though some variation of farmers markets have likely been around for centuries, they seem to have come a long way over the past decade or so when it comes to the diversity of products, food vendors and entertainment – including live music, children’s activities and more.
As trends around sustainability, farm to table and sourcing local continue to grow and expand, Farmers markets also seem to be fast growing in popularity among locals and visitors.
Enter the New West Farmers Market. Previously known as the Royal City Farmers Market (up until a few weeks ago), the newly-named New West Farmers Market showcases the best of local and draws both residents and visitors to the city.
As president for the past two years and the market manager for an earlier four of the market’s previous nine years, Jen Arbo has seen the market develop and evolve over time to include more diverse vendors, food trucks and offerings
I had a chance to sit down with Jen Arbo to learn more about her role and about the market.
Can you tell me how many vendors you have, and some of the offerings at the New West Farmers Market?
We have a roster of approximately 100 vendors, and about 35 to 50 vendors show up at every market. The vendors rotate, so the products are always a bit different – which means it’s worth coming week after week to see who’s here and what’s available. You never know what you might find, so it’s always worth a visit. From fresh produce to local brews, bakeries and food trucks – there’s lots on offer.
Why was the name of the market changed from Royal City to the New West Farmers Market?
We love the nickname “Royal City” for New West, but found it was an extremely local moniker. It seemed very few people outside our city recognized that term. Instead, many of our market visitors – and even some vendors – have always referred to our market as the New West Farmers Market.
So we just thought it made more sense to rename it “New West” so we could better promote the market to vendors and visitors. We’re thinking the name change will also help people more quickly figure out where it is… and this – along with our calibre of vendors and products – will continue to bring more people here from outside the city to enjoy the market, and everything else that New West has to offer.
How would you describe your role with the New West Farmers Market?
We have a market manager – so I would say my role is to support her and advocate on behalf of the market through applying for provincial grants, and working with the appropriate contacts at the City and other partners to help the market with any permits, promotions, regulations… that sort of thing.
My role as market president is as a volunteer, so our market manager handles more of the day-to-day operations – and I do my best to support her and ensure that our strategic plan is being implemented. Each day is a bit different for me, but there’s always lots of strategic thinking and planning involved to make sure we’re operating the best we can and following our strategic plan.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
It would be the opportunity I have to connect with the community over food. We have some amazing food vendors here; and I really believe that there isn’t much that good food can’t complement and amplify.
I’ve lived in New West for about 20 years, and this is my home. So it’s also really special to be so involved and to connect with my fellow residents – and with visitors to our city – over some incredible and healthy food. We’re the only Farmers market in New West, and I think there’s something special in that too.
In your opinion, what is New Westminster’s best-kept secret?
Hume Park. It’s probably one of the best parks in New West. There’s something for everyone – sports fields, a spray park, a pool and playground, trails, a creek, an amazing salmon ecology… there’s just so much there. You can easily spend the entire weekend at Hume Park. It’s probably the best hidden gem in the community.
The New West Farmers Market takes place every Thursday from 3pm to 7pm at Tipperary Park at 315 Queens Avenue. New West will also be home to Fridays on Front – a weekly night market on the newly developed Front Street Mews – every Friday evening (from 5pm to 8pm) from July 7th to August 25th.
Did you know? BC’s tourism industry had an exceptional year in 2016 with a total of 5,532,065 overnight international visitor arrivals – including 3,620,975 US visitors, 1,200,481 from Asia Pacific and some 535,238 visitors from Europe.
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