Patrice Lemare of Wine Country Greenhouses signals to a customer Saturday at the Penticton Farmers' Market

Patrice Lemare of Wine Country Greenhouses signals to a customer Saturday at the Penticton Farmers' Market

Penticton markets back in full bloom

Growers say despite what may have seemed to be a cool spring, the weather is a big improvement on last year

This spring may have seemed unseasonably cool prior to this weekend, but some area farmers say it’s actually been quite good.

“It’s really not cool, if you think back to last year. The first farmers’ market we almost froze to death,” said Patrice Lemare, owner of Wine Country Greenhouses on the West Bench.

Lemare was among the vendors who set up shop Saturday to kick off the 23rd annual edition of the Penticton Farmers’ Market.

It’s the seventh year Lemare has brought her goods, mostly bedding plants for now, into the city’s downtown core.

“It helps get your business — for myself — known to people, because there’s not a lot of traffic up on the West Bench, so this makes you visible,” she said. “You bring your products to the people and it’s something that works for us quite well.”

It also works for Cawston grower Justene Wright, who, along with her husband, operates the Food of the Sun Organic Farm.

“The people of Penticton are very supportive of this market. It’s great. It makes making a living possible as a small farmer,” Wright said.

This is her fourth year as a vendor, and she agreed with Lemare that the growing season so far has been a good one.

“Last year was cold and rainy and miserable,” she said.

Her booth Saturday was overflowing with kale, bedding plants, herbs and greens, but that mix will change with the seasons.

“It’s supposed to be a hot summer, so definitely (there will be) more cucumbers and heat-loving things, (like) peppers, tomatoes,” Wright said.

While the market wasn’t jam-packed as it is at the height of the tourist season, and there is still room for more vendors, plenty of regulars still turned out, including Josee Bergeron.

She doesn’t complain about Penticton’s weather, since she moved here last summer from Prince George with her husband and three kids.

“It’s really cold (there), so we love Penticton’s farmers’ market. There’s so much available here,” Bergeron said.

B.C.’s northern capital does have a farmers’ market, but its mostly indoors and doesn’t have as much variety.

“It was more of a craft market than anything else. There wasn’t much edible because it’s so hard to grow things up there,” she said.

The Downtown Penticton Community Market also raised the curtain on its season Saturday, and it has grown from two blocks on Main Street to now include part of Front Street. An two additional two blocks on Main Street are expected to be added in June for an artisans’ market.