Farmers’ market slated for town square this summer

The Lake Cowichan Downtown Renewal Society hopes the new weekly event will generate traffic for town.

While Lake Cowichan’s new town square, Ts’uubaa-asatx Square, may be nice to stroll through, it hasn’t seen much activity since its naming ceremony last October. Now the Lake Cowichan Downtown Renewal Society is aiming to bring a new attraction to the town square following its official opening in May – a downtown farmers’ market.

The Downtown Renewal Society is currently planning for the markets to run each Saturday, for four hours, from May through September in order to create more traffic downtown while residents have free time and visitors are in town. Along with the typical produce, home-baked goods, local art and homemade crafts, Downtown Renewal Society spokesperson Jennifer Pollner said the group is also hoping to host local non-profit groups and even feature live music at the downtown markets. Aside from a few differences, Pollner said they’re still aiming for an air of familiarity at the downtown markets, in order to attract market-hoppers who frequent the Honeymoon Bay and other nearby farmers’ markets.

“We’re basically looking for anything that’s not commercially made,” Pollner said. “Basically the same as other markets; you can sell anything you make, bake or create.”

The Downtown Renewal Society was formed by a number of local business owners as an initiative to attract both residents and visitors to Lake Cowichan’s downtown, through events, beautification and other projects, in order to stimulate economic growth of the town.

“We’ve put all other plans on hold right now in order to get the market accomplished,” Pollner said, “but so far we’ve had people paint buildings and clean the downtown area.”

Pollner explained that Ts’uu baa-asatx Square was chosen as a location because Saywell Park is typically congested with parked cars and swimmers, while hosting an event in town square will hopefully encourage people to walk, giving them an opportunity to see the downtown area and its brick-and-mortar businesses.

The Downtown Farmers’ Market is open to any potential vendors, and Pollner said she’s looking forward to seeing some faces from outside of the business community running their own tables.

“It will give them a chance to see what it’s like, and get their name out there,” Pollner said. “We’re hoping they’ll move on to opening their own businesses if they have success at the market. You never know.”

The Downtown Market is still in its early stages of planning, and the Downtown Renewal Society is currently seeking approval from council in order to use the town square each weekend, and applying for grants in order to cover the cost of insurance, which the group estimated would cost them $1500.

“The people we’ve talked to have all seemed very enthusiastic about the idea of a downtown farmers’ market,” Pollner said, “and council was very enthusiastic that we could organize a project like this for a low cost.”

For more information on the Lake Cowichan Downtown Renewal Society and the upcoming Downtown Farmers’ Market, the group is holding a meeting at the Country Grocer meeting room on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. You can also visit their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lakecowichanfarmersmarket