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A sign of spring and normalcy? Port Coquitlam Farmers Market opens Thursday

Dozens of vendors on hand as Port Coquitlam outdoor market opens for the season; online and in-person shopping available, and the city will be giving out vouchers to the first 200 shoppers for materials to make hanging baskets
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Karen Curtis shows off some of the local fare that will be available at the Port Coquitlam farmer's market when it opens for the season on Thursday at Leigh Square.

Karen Curtis is jubilant about the opening of the Port Coquitlam Farmers Market on Thursday.

She’s not only looking forward to the big day when local farmers and artisans connect with customers at Leigh Square in the city’s downtown, she’s equally thrilled that the annual spring market is opening on time and in-person — albeit with a host of COVID-19 protocols in place to keep things safe.

The PoCo market manager said last year the market was delayed until July because of the pandemic; however, this year, the market opens on May 6 with as many as 30 vendors offering wares: from fresh greens, asparagus and rhubarb to Keto baking, candles and freshly made kettle corn. 

In addition to a wide range of foods and artisan products, there will be music by Ranj Singh, who will serve up popular cover tunes on his distinctive 12-string guitar. “We’re trying to make it a pleasant experience, not festive in hang around, but make sure it’s pleasant when you’re there,” Curtis explained.

The city is also helping to welcome back the market that’s opening to coincide with the annual May Day celebration.

FREE MATERIALS FOR FIRST 200 PEOPLE TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL HANGING BASKET 

The first 200 Port Coquitlam residents who attend the market opening will receive a voucher to pick up a free do-it-yourself kit to make a hanging basket, including plants and materials, that will be available on site (one basket per household with ID showing proof of Port Coquitlam residency). 

“We know many people look forward to the Port Coquitlam Farmers Market every year, and we’re kicking it off earlier this year as part of our May Days celebrations,” said Mayor Brad West, in a press release. “Although the market has been modified to keep people safe, it continues to be an important community tradition in Port Coquitlam. Make sure to drop in to pick up some fresh, locally grown food while supporting local farmers and businesses.”

The market safety measures will include:

• one-way entrance to the market from Leigh Square

• requirements for everyone on-site to complete a health self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms before entering

• directional signage and physical distancing in lineups

• reduced touch-points by having vendors handle and package products selected by customers

• request for attendees to wear a face mask 

Curtis said that volunteers will keep traffic moving at the market, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays until Oct. 7.

And for those who still want to shop online, there is a variety of groceries and greens available to order at portcoquitlam.ca/farmersmarket, with items changing weekly. Select a pick-up time at the Gathering Place on Thursdays between 3 and 7 p.m.; orders must be submitted by Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. to be ready for pick-up on Thursday.

Parking is available along Donald Street on Thursday afternoons.

Curtis, who got her start as a food advocate with her mother-and-daughter business KICS Lemonade, said it’s important to support local farmers and artisans. 

“It’s what real food is all about,” she said, “and if you don’t support your farmers market the next thing you know you can’t buy local.”

• The Fraser North Farmers Market Society runs the Port Coquitlam Farmers Market on behalf of the city. To get updates on what will be available each week, residents are encouraged to sign up for the Farmers Market email newsletter at farmersandmore.org.   

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