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Jasper Farmers’ Market continues to grow in 2022

Volunteer Mackenzie Cook with the Jasper Farmers’ Market poses with a reusable bag that was sold as a fundraiser for the local non-profit. | Supplied photo

Jason Stockfish | advertising@fitzhugh.ca

With the return of summer comes the return of the growing season, which means the Jasper Farmers’ Market is back in business.

While the pandemic forced the local marketplace to reduce its offerings during the last two years, the market is set to grow in its 12th season with more artisans, bakers, farmers and musicians than ever before. 

“With over 30 vendors from across Alberta and BC, we proudly welcome you all to our biggest market yet,” boasts the non-profit on social media.

Located at the McCready Centre, the local market is open every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 15-Sept. 14, rain or shine, noted Kelli Sroka, manager of the Jasper Farmers’ Market.

The approval to use a second parking lot at the McCready Centre is allowing some welcome additions to this year’s market including a kids’ zone, face painting, buskers, live music and the return of Yoga in the Park.

The market is operated by the Jasper Local Food Society (JLFS), which is also responsible for organizing and operating the much-loved community gardens.

For all that it offers to the community, the JLFS won the award for Jasper’s non-profit of the year in 2021.

Sroka explained how there are numerous reasons the farmer’s market is integral to the health and well-being of the community.

“We are a very small non-profit…and we are looking to increase our visibility in town, as well as our programs, because Jasper is actually considered to be a food desert.”

Several factors lead to the designation of food desert.

“Number one, our climate is so extreme here that even during the growing season there’s actually not a lot you can grow yourself,” Sroka said.

As Jasper is located in a national park, there are restrictions on how much food can be produced locally.

Additionally, due to its location, Jasper is at the end of the supply chain.

“Being so remote, we’re the last stop for the trucks that supply the grocery stores, so we’re really isolated,” Sroka said.

The JLFS’s main goal is to help residents to have access to local, healthy food options.

“We’re actually working with other food programs in town such as the Food Recovery Program and the Food Bank, because we’re noticing an increased demand in people that are needing access to food,” Sroka said.

The JLFS is a small organization with limited funding that is in need of a few new supplies this year, such as a new shed for the community gardens, Sroka explained.

“We need to be able to expand our services to help people have better access to food sources,” she added.

“So, a lot of the work we’re doing at the Farmers’ Market this year is fundraising to be able to expand some of these programs and services.”

There will be 50/50 tickets for sale at the market throughout the summer with the proceeds going towards a fundraiser for the JLFS.

“We’d really like to be able to put together a tool sharing program in Jasper so our members can borrow and use different tools that we’ll keep in our shed,” Sroka said.

Further funds will be raised by donations at Yoga in the Park, where different yoga instructors will volunteer their time throughout the summer.

The yoga sessions have moved from the information centre lawn to a grassy area at the McCready Centre so that residents are able to take advantage of the market and take in yoga on their lunch break.

Donations for the non-profit will also be accepted by face painters in the kids’ area.

Another new program for 2022 is called Tiny Entrepreneurs.

To encourage younger generations to learn what it’s like to run their own business, the JLFS is providing space for kids that want to sell their own crafts or creations and is offering to coach them through the process.

The table will also be available for those new to Jasper as a place to market their wares free of charge.

Adding to the atmosphere in 2022 will be the addition of buskers who will entertain the crowds while hoping to earn a few new fans and a few bucks in the process.

One of Jasper’s most beloved bands, Sons and Daughter, performed at the first market of the year and there will be other acts performing throughout the summer.

“It’s really important to have a space to support local artists and artisans,” said Sroka.

“We have everything now from eggs, meat, bread, coffee, liquor, and fruits and veggies.”

Some residents are getting anywhere from 70-100 per cent of their food and consumables at the local market, said Sroka.

“It’s definitely supplying a lot of Jasper locals with their food. It’s amazing.”

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