This week I am happy to introduce our third vendor in our vendor spotlight series – Spectrum Farms. With all intention to provide a write-up of a unique vendor each week, I am already behind schedule. Market days always go much too quickly, and I never feel like I am able to connect in depth with as many of our vendors and customers as I would like by the time the day is done. The exception this week was my pleasant conversation with Serena Naeve, Operations Manager for the Kootenay Region Association for Community Living (KRACL) which operates Spectrum Farms.
Spectrum Farms is a social enterprise with a mandate to provide employment and opportunities for persons with disabilities. In addition to the market garden, Spectrum Farms also raises free range chickens for eggs and operates a bakery and dehydrating facility for fruits and vegetables grown on their farm. A dedicated network of staff and volunteers make all this possible week after week.
Take for example, Saturday morning when Serena, Terry, and Alex arrive with two vehicles fully loaded with everything from freshly baked scones and cookies, dried fruit, soup mix, fresh veggies, herbs, and fruit. This is a great stop for participants of the province wide Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program who have a wide selection of fresh, local fruits and vegetables to choose from (to learn more about the FMNCP, click here). Serena has always had a fondness for markets. During her time in Paris, she lived without a refrigerator, so visiting a farmers’ market to purchase fresh groceries for the day was more than a luxury, it was a necessity.
I’m always blown away by the colour and diversity featured at their stall – a full spectrum if you will! It takes a remarkable team effort to grow and provide this quantity of fresh, quality food with a recent emphasis on unique products like goji berries and haskaps (though the birds got to them before we could this year). Recently, Spectrum Farms has been researching and experimenting with heat resistant and drought tolerant seeds as they adapt their market garden to the realities of climate change. You may be lucky enough to grab a head of bright purple cauliflower, an example of a hardy variety of the typically white plant that happens to have 25% vitamin A and thrives in hotter weather than its colourless relative.
I was so glad to have had the chance to slow down and connect with Serena before it was time to ring the bell to wrap up for the day. It was just her and I at the booth, but it is clear that there are so many individuals responsible for the success of the farm behind the scenes. Unfortunately, the uneven terrain and elements of our outdoor market make accessibility a challenge to many employed by Spectrum Farms. To this, we sincerely hope our dream of a market park with improved accessibility is developed quickly (more on that later).
Spectrum Farms will be with us every Saturday of the market season under the rainbow flags near the top end of the market. If you can’t make it to the market on the weekend, you have plenty of opportunity throughout the regular week to stop in at the Spectrum Farms Store on their property located at 849 Erickson Road, Creston BC. You can also connect with them by email at email@example.com or through their Facebook account. However, nothing beats an in-person stop at their market stall. Serena and crew, it is such a joy to have you at the market! We admire your advocacy and dedication to local food and people in need not only at our market but throughout our community, too!