I love visiting farmers markets. My favourite one is held in John Hendry Park in Vancouver and is known as the Trout Lake Market. The lake is a conspicuous feature in the park. The market provides entertainment as well as food and other items. It would normally open for its season soon. Due to the coronavirus situation, that’s unlikely, although the market might appear in a highly modified form. I hope it opens sometime during the summer.
Multiple farmers markets are held in Vancouver in both the winter and the summer. I haven’t visited them all, but I hope to eventually do so. I love the Trout Lake one because both the market and its location are interesting to explore. It’s also quite easy for me to reach John Hendry Park. A bike path travels through the park and SkyTrain (a light rapid transit system) has a station not far away. The park contains parking lots. One of these is used for the market, which operates on every Saturday during the season.
John Hendry Park is about 67 acres in size. John Hendry was born in 1843 and lived until at least 1912. He was prominent in the lumber industry and owned a sawmill as well as Trout Lake and its surroundings. The lake doesn’t contain fish at the moment, despite its name.
The park offers many attractions, despite its relatively small size. The lake is probably the most appreciated one, at least when the market isn’t present. There’s an area for people to swim at one end. A lifeguard is present in summer and a concession stand is open at that time. Dogs are allowed to swim in the opposite part of the lake all year. They do this with great enthusiasm. The off-leash area is very popular.
The trails in the park offer interesting and attractive views of recreation areas, the lake, and nature. In some places on the trail, the ends of the lake can’t be seen and nature predominates. These are my favourite sections. They provide some lovely sights for nature lovers and photographers.
The lake is a natural one and was formed in a peat bog. One of the plants that grows beside in lake is the yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus). This is often considered to be invasive. It reproduces by both seeds and fragments of its rhizomes (underground and horizontal stems). The plant can be a serious nuisance. It produces lovely flowers, though.
The park contains benches for people to sit on, though many people enjoy sitting on the grass. It’s nice to enjoy some of the food that’s been bought in the market as a picnic. The park also contains areas for sports (including soccer, baseball, and tennis), trails for jogging, and a community centre.
The community centre contains a small café, vending machines, washrooms, and free wireless access to the Internet for everyone. It also contains a popular ice skating rink. Washrooms are present at other locations in the park as well as in the community centre.
The Saturday market sells an interesting variety of goods. Locally-grown and recently-picked produce is the most common item, but additional items are available. They include attractive houseplants, crafts, and baked products created by artisans. Specialty items such as cheese, salmon, chocolate, honey, artisan beer or cider, and sometimes jewelry and textiles are also available. All of the products are created or collected locally.
Live entertainment and education are always part of the market. The entertainment often includes a musical performance. I’ve also seen a balloon twister at the market and nearly always see face painters for children. The education aspect usually involves knowledgeable people who can share information about gardening and growing our own produce.
Food trucks are part of the market. Coffee is always available and crepes often are. The crepes are very popular. The truck always has a line-up when I see it. It’s advisable to get to the market soon after it opens, not only to get the best selection of some items, such as the baked products, but also to avoid the long line for crepes.
Although the market may open later than normal this year (or perhaps not at all), the park is pleasant to visit. It’s possible to maintain social distancing by walking on the large area of grass in the park instead of on the trails, expect perhaps at the busiest times on the weekend. Maintaining the proper distance from other people is something that we need to keep in mind at the moment, since it’s an important strategy for reducing the spread of COVID-19.
I’m hopeful that the virus pandemic will soon be over. Realistically, it seems that we will have to fight it for some time. For me, nature is a comfort at this time, which is is why I like to explore parks. I am mindful of the need to stay six feet away from others when I leave my home, for both my sake and the sake of others. I hope to be able to explore nature in an appropriate way for as long as possible.
Interestingly, the winter markets in Vancouver are currently open because they provide food, which is classified as an essential service. Strict rules are in place to prevent health problems. Customers must maintain social distancing. No food or drink trucks are present and no crafts are being sold. The markets are open purely to provide “fresh food and pantry items”.
The Vancouver Farmers Market website address is eatlocal.org. The site should be visited in order to get the latest news if anyone plans to visit a market in Vancouver while the coronavirus is a problem. The Trout Lake market normally opens in early May. It will be interesting to see what happens this year. I hope to see the market’s “Welcome Back” sign in real life before the season is over.