Back in Alberta, we used to drive to a nearby town in the summertime, and get cases of fruit, fresh from BC, for $25 to $35 per 20 pound case. Peaches, plums, nectarines, concorde grapes, even tomatoes, you name it. The lady ran the stand, sometimes with her daughter, while her husband was back in BC, picking fruit at their mixed organic farm, or arranging to sell other growers’ produce cooperatively. We had consistent access to relatively cheap, definitely high quality, tasty produce, Wednesday through Saturday, just a ten minute drive from our house. The lady would even set cases of stuff aside for regular customers, and additionally had less-pretty fruit available for a discount, if she knew you were into canning. In the autumn, there were several Taber corn trucks that also tended to spring up,as well, from which you could buy a 72-cob bag of premium Taber sweet corn, for under $50.
This town is not going to be like that, I’m afraid.
Based on having been spoiled in Alberta, I assumed I could continue to pick up whatever I might need, for a reasonable price. So far, however, there has been only one fruit stand in evidence, and when Hubby and I dropped by to check it out, the quoted prices were nuts ($85 for a 20-pound case of sweet cherries, $60 for a case of nectarines). In addition, more than half of the fruit in the trays had little store stickers on them, indicating they had come from Washington, California, and Chile. So much for fresh BC fruit.
We thought maybe the farmer’s market would be a little better, and we went there today, since we happened to be in town on market day. We were hoping to find some reasonably-priced raspberries, as canned raspberries are a staple around here. The one fella who had brought raspberries had already sold out, and anyways, the prices were not all that reasonable – $5 for about a pint. We’re used to paying $10 at a U-pick for a gallon bucket.
We wandered around the market, and were generally really disappointed. Outside of the guy who was out of raspberries, there was a table that had two onions and two pints of red currants, a few tables selling jams and pickles, three tables of baking, a seller offering various sausages and meat, and a table full of green and yellow wax beans. Where were the new potatoes? The snap peas? The saskatoon berries? We have been harvesting all of these here at the Acreage. I know for a fact that summer squash and salad greens and radishes and dill are all ready right now, as well as basil, strawberries, sunflowers, baby beets, and who-knows-what-else…all of these things should, in theory, be on the tables at that market. This town is at least two or three times the size of the Alberta town where our little fruit stand was, and all of these things would be on offer at that farmer’s market right now, along with cucumbers, hothouse tomatoes and peppers, flower bunches, stone-oven-baked fresh bread, local fruit wines, freshwater fish, and BC fruit.
Maybe next year, we’ll plant a bigger garden and add some variety to that sad little market. I am really worried about how we are going to source local fruit and veggies that we haven’t grown for ourselves. I think our corn, and maybe also our cukes and squashes went in too late to bear in the short season we have, and outside of wildcrafted berries, we don’t have any fruit here at the Acreage at all. I guess we could buy stuff from the Co-op or Safeway, but I hate to spend that kind of money and see it all go to the middlemen, rather than the farmers. Not a happy camper, here…