Bring on the local food. Be it striped peppers, purple tomatoes or a squash variety you’ve never heard of before, the Rossland REAL Food Mountain Market is gearing up once again to deliver local treats of all sorts to the Mountain Kingdom.
Building on their success last year with the move from Saturday mornings to Thursday afternoons the market is looking to continue to expand their offerings this year—a goal which has been made easier thanks to relaxed regulations and permitting on low risk foods. A little less bureaucracy for foods classified as low risk should make it that much easier for interested Rosslanders to participate in the market.
Previously, vendors of low risk food had to submit an application before they sold their wares. That step has been waived for this year, so people with low risk foods just have to make sure it is prepared in a clean kitchen and bring it out to the market to sell.
For those with some spare fruits and veggies, baked goods or their own personal food specialty, REAL Food will be holding a free informational event at the Rossland Library for potential vendors to learn the best way to sell their wares within the law.
Low risk foods can generally be summed up as foods that are not capable of supporting the growth of disease-causing organisms such as meat and dairy. ( A full list of low-risk foods is available in the attached file) Those items can be sold as well; however, there is a process to go through with the Health Authority which will all be explained at next week’s meeting. Items such as chocolate, cinnamon buns, cookies, dried fruit, jam, jelly muffins and more all fall into the low risk foods group. If you’re a pickling fan this should delight. Whereas previously pickled beans and such had to have a sample jar sent in for PH testing and approval, pickle-heads the region over can now simply bring along their tasty treats for sale without the administrative process.
Working closely together with the local health inspector to create a productive and ‘fruit’-ful relationship has been one of the major wins the market has achieved in its brief lifespan.
“I feel for the local Health Authority because they have a hard job at times, and they really want to and work at developing good relationships with everyone involved to help us out. They’re not there to police all the time. It’s a challenging job so this is one more opportunity to work proactively and productively with them,” explained Rachel Roussin.
Roussin herself will be ramping up her role with the market. This year with the help of grants, donations and vendor fees, REAL Food has hired Roussin to be the market’s coordinator.
“This is the first year we have an official coordinator,” added Roussin. “It’s awesome. This is the place to be in the summer. Thursday afternoons will be full of music, good times, neighbours and everybody will want to be a part of that market as we continue to grow it.”
Following the basic guidelines of ‘make it, bake it, grow it’, the market will be returning to Queen and Columbia on June 30th. Building on last year’s successful move from Saturday mornings to Thursday afternoons, the market will stick with a mid-week time-slot which brought bigger crowds, more exposure and, of course, more sales for the vendors.
“This really sparked new life into the market,” explained Roussin. “It has really inspired people to ramp it up and make it even bigger and better than last year because it was such a great success.”
In an effort to build on that success, REAL Food is putting an extra effort into marketing the market this year. They’ve so far gained two grants of $500 apiece from the Nelson District Credit Union and the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT). The Credit Union’s grant will go towards the purchase of two tent board signs that will go up on market day on either end of Columbia, letting folks know the market is open and full of good local produce and wares. The CBT grant will go towards marketing as well, through the production of posters and marketing material to generate additional interest and traffic.
“We’re working really hard to market it in Warfield and in Trail this year as well as in Rossland,” added Roussin. “We want to have lots of music and artists and make it a really awesome community event and have people know that it’s happening from 3:00-6:30 every Thursday afternoon, all summer. By August last year, everybody had caught on so our goal this year is to remind people in advance that the market will be happening every week.”
With strong support from vendors already this year, old favourites and some new faces will populate the downtown market this summer. The crowd favourite Sweet Dreams Bakery will once again be back with their delectable cupcakes [Author’s note: The lime margarita cupcakes are outstanding] along with Trish Rasku and her homemade soaps and vinegars.
New tables this time around will include a Swiss baker, currently living in Genelle, who will be baking up some alpen loaves and Swiss specialty breads. Adding to the local food scene will be two area farms: Centre Road Farms from Grand Forks and Mad Dog Farms from just outside of Castlegar will be weekly staples.
“It’s a unique opportunity for Rosslanders to buy food from the farmer that grew it,” noted Roussin. “Not being an agricultural community, it’s a unique experience [for Rosslanders] to have that full on interaction with the farmer. These are the people that grow out food. They plant the seeds, pick the weeds, harvest it and bring it up to the market to sell. It I think people appreciate that connection to their food source. This is the best way that we can support local food production. You can shake the farmers hand and say “That was the best tomato I’ve ever had,” or that kind of thing. It’s a real tangible way to support local food producers.”
Working hand in hand with the Rossland Chamber of Commerce, the goal is to continue to add new features to the downtown shopping experience. With an initiative that is boosting the local economy, local food production as well as our own individual health, what’s not to love about the Rossland REAL Food Mountain Market?
The information meeting for potential food vendors will take place at the Rossland Library on June 15th at 7:00pm and is free of charge, no registration required.
The Market itself will start operations on June 30th running from 3:00-6:30pm every Thursday afternoon.
More information can be found at www.rosslandfood.com