Urban entrepreneurship

New market creates connections between backyard growers and buyers

story + photos by mary preiser potts

Urban Growers Market
Second Fridays (next one Friday June 10!
2315 Main St., Vancouver
(One World Merchants parking lot)

www.urbangrowersmarket.com

Embarking on its first year, the Urban Growers Market is an evolution of Craft in the Village, started in 2009 by Chris Stevens of NW Shirts and Liz Halili of One World Merchants. The new market brings together a mix of backyard growers, small farmers and food artisans, as well as artists and crafters. It features a co-op table run by Urban Abundance, a barter table where backyard farmers can swap produce, and a table where fresh eggs and plant starts are offered by Posey Patch.

You may even see a table of budding child gardeners trade and sell their own fresh produce.

A swift outpouring of support got the market off the ground. In just a few days, a Kickstarter campaign raised money for permits and fees. Sponsorships from local businesses followed. Other fundraisers included the Vancouver Vixen (skateboard) Benefit Race sponsored by NW Shirts, as well as a silent auction and concert at the Brickhouse organized by Anni Becker.

“The Urban Growers Market has been fully funded by the community, 100 percent,” Halili said.

The local food movement in Vancouver is already strong. As the UGM founders see it, the more options there are for buying local, the better, especially as people become increasingly concerned about their food sources. This is evidenced by the proliferation of community-supported agriculture farms and farmers markets in recent years.

“All of the neighborhoods around here are very interested in buying local. It’s just giving them another option for a local, community, family event,” said Sunrise O’Mahoney, a co-founder of the Urban Growers Market, alongside Halili and Stevens.

Bigger than the sum of its parts, the market aims to serve as a community gathering place. In a city with low walkability in many areas, the founders hope to provide people with a reason to get outside, walk around and get to know their neighbors.

“This is just something that oil has done away with. People don’t know their neighbors…. I would just like for people to see how closely tied we are,” Stevens said.

A backyard grower and mother of three, Erica Barnes-Davis sells produce via the Urban Abundance co-op table. She thought participating in the market would be a good way to educate her children about where their food comes from.

“It’s so hard for kids to know about seasons for foods,” she said, “since we can get anything anytime from some part of the world.”

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