Region’s farmers markets preparing for season

A farmers’ market in Rocky Mountain House will be one of the first rural markets in Central Alberta out the gate this season when it opens today.

A farmers’ market in Rocky Mountain House will be one of the first rural markets in Central Alberta out the gate this season when it opens today.

About a dozen other rural farmers’ markets are preparing to open across Central Alberta, allowing local producers to sell their food and other products close to home.

Sam Leavitt, manager of the Clearwater Farmers’ Market, said she is kicking off a week earlier this year. She decided to start earlier because they will end the season a little earlier on Oct. 6.

The market is entering its third season, Leavitt said. It averages about 24 vendors, and sees 300 to 400 shoppers. Later in the season when they run the Thursday market alongside the town’s public market — Marketplace on Main — vendors will see between 1,000 and 3,000 shoppers.

Homemade fudge, waffles, B.C. fruit and asparagus, jams, jellies, pickles and other preserves will be available at the location in the Brick parking lot from 5 to 8 p.m.

Most farmers’ markets in Central Alberta will begin to open next week around the May long weekend. There are markets from Sundre to Sylvan Lake to Lacombe to Three Hills and points between.

Edgar Farms, a member of the Innisfail Growers co-op, sell their produce including their popular asparagus at many local markets, including the Red Deer Winter Market in Eastview, which just closed for the season in late April.

This year’s asparagus crop at their farm almost made the winter market, said Elna Edgar, who farms with her husband Doug.

They have been growing asparagus since 1986 and this is the earliest they have ever started picking. They began on April 19. The earliest previously was May 5. Usually they start about May 15 but have started as late as May 25, she said.

The warm winter and hot spring are likely the reason the asparagus is popping up so early.

They’ve seen good yields so far this year, Edgar said, but rain is needed. Like last year, they will not hold the annual Asparagus Festival in June because a 2014 hail storm killed a lot of their older plants.

It takes five years to get a patch established and they just weren’t sure what their supply would be, she said.

A new mobile app offering information about farmers’ markets was released by the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry last month. The app is called Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market and is available for iOS and Android mobile phones.

More information about Alberta farmers’ markets can be found at albertamarkets.com

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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