Wednesdays are winding down. After another successful summer, the Jasper Local Food Society’s weekly farmers’ market will wrap up September 6. Located in the McCready Centre parking lot, the market boasts about 15 booths, variously displaying produce, jewelry, homemade dog treats, soaps, paintings and other pieces of art. The Jasper Local’s Megan Warren made the rounds on August 23 to find the plumpest cherries, the prettiest blown glass and the most nutrient-dense microgreens.
Amber Legault owns and operates Rocky Mountain Microgreens. A micr
ogreen, I learned, is the tiny, edible shoot of young plants and vegetables. They’re nutrient dense and super delicious. Legault’s table was lined with tiny green shoots, including a stack of Popcorn Shoots: the yellow ones are grown in the dark and the green ones are grown in light. I tried both and fell for the buttery taste of the yellow shoots. For Legault, who grows the microgreens in her house, the business makes sense for her lifestyle.
“I thought that this was something I could totally do and something I feel good about, and something I could work into my schedule with two kids and a railroading husband,” she said.
Though Amber is relatively new to the farmer’s market, she’s al
ready getting quite a bit of attention and hopes to use the publicity to create a year-round local presence for her microgreens.
“I’m hoping to do deliveries or get in touch with some of the local stores to see if we can do something once a week.”Frequenters of the farmer’s market will know Jonathan Deuling and his BC fruit truck quite well. His business may well be the “anchor tenant” of the summer market and Johnny Fruit Truck, as he’s known, has endeared himself to Jasperites over the last six years. Deuling travels all across BC and Alberta, bringing Okanagan peaches, plums and cherries to finicky frugivores. A new baby has blessed the Fruit Truck family, and as dad showed off photos to the berry-buying public on August 23, he talked about life on the road.
“It’s a long drive from Summerland, but Jasper is the first, freshest stop,” he said.
Rather than work the oil fields, 10 years ago, Deuling got into the fruit business. Although the first summer failed to yield a profit, since then, his customer base has grown exponentially.
“People value this stuff,” he said.
In the winter, Deuling is a full-time musician. But before the frost sets in, instead of plucking the banjo, he’s picking the best fruit for his customers. Sinc
e it’s a big job, for the last few seasons, Deuling’s hired local Jasperites to help out.
“It puts a familiar face on the product,” he said. “It brings people together. And I couldn’t do it without them.”
One artisan booth was covered in glass plates, bowls and jewelry in all different colours. Some caught the sunlight and sparkled, while others had subtler designs. Standing out were two melted wine bottles in the perfect shape for a butter dish, the remaining two of 20 from the start of the season. The works look painted, though the artist, Carol Smith, uses only coloured glass for the design. There is a lot more than meets the eye with Smith’s fused glass art, I learned.
“The ones made of melted wine bottles, I call the ultimate recycling,” she laughed.
The glass is melted in Smith’s kiln. She got into the art after a pair of fused glass earrings caught her eye.
“After the first class, I was hooked,” she said.
Deb Cochrane from Robson Valley Producers didn’t always love gardening. As a kid, her mother had to force her to get her hands dirty in the potato patch. A generation later, she’s happiest while tending her incredible squashes, massive heads of kale and perfectly oblong eggplants.
“This doesn’t feel like hard work,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane, along with a gaggle of other growers from the Dunster, B.C. area, has been travelling to Jasper every Wednesday in the summers for the past six years. The markets supplement her income from the farm, she said, plus, it’s feels good getting her healthy produce to hungry mouths.
“I want to provide nutritious food to people,” she said. “That’s my service.”
Rico Satoko is a local artist whom many will recognize from her collection of one-line drawings, exhibited in the Habitat for the Arts this past April. Satoko has had a booth at the market for four years now; her wares include origami earrings, cards, t-shirts and other pieces printed with her designs. Rico studied art in both Japan and the Netherlands before finding her way to Jasper and becoming a member of the Jasper Artists’ Guild. Though there are slow weeks at the market, getting to meet so many people from around the world keeps it exciting for Rico.
“Sometimes business is good, sometimes it’s slow, but I enjoy it, I enjoy meeting people. It’s exciting because people come from all over. They’re from Europe, they’re from Asia…everywhere.”
For the moment, Rico is working full-time as an artist.
“This is the only thing I’m doing right now,” she said. “It’s perfect.”
MEGAN WARREN // email@example.com