Linda Crampton is a writer who lives in Greater Vancouver. She enjoys walking and likes to take photographs of her discoveries.
A Farmers Market and an Interesting Park
May to October is farmers market season in southwestern British Columbia. Several markets are located not far from my home. My favourite one is the Trout Lake Farmers Market, which is held in John Hendry Park in East Vancouver. Here I can buy fresh produce, artisan baked goods, plants to grow at home, and attractive and often unique crafts. I enjoy the festive atmosphere at the weekly event and the interaction with the friendly vendors and customers that I meet.
The market at Trout Lake is very popular for several reasons— the goods that it sells, the entertainment and education that it offers, and its lovely location. The event always seems like a community celebration to me. Performing musicians and entertainment stations for children are present every time I visit. People who provide information about local food, gardening, or environmental issues are also present every week.
After visiting the market, I walk around the lake. A Saturday morning visit to the park is a great way to start the weekend. This year is a special one for the market due to the coronavirus situation, however. People who intend to visit the Trout Lake market in 2021 should read the relevant information below because special procedures are in place. All of the photos in this article were taken by me on my trips to the area in recent years. The descriptions of market activities apply to previous years and hopefully will soon apply again.
The Trout Lake Farmers Market opens in early May and closes in late October. The dates are roughly the same each year. It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on every Saturday during the season. There are seven other summer farmers markets in the Vancouver area as well as two winter ones that run from November to April.
Most vendors visit the Trout Lake market on a rotating basis. Their wares depend on what is currently being grown. Produce and baked good vendors are always present. Other vendors sell items such as wild salmon, meats, cheeses, herbs, spices, pickles, preserves, honey, granola mixes, and artisan chocolates. Artisan cider, beer, or wine vendors are often present at the market as well. The market emphasizes organic and sustainable food and drinks.
Coffee and hot food vendors are present in the park every week. The crepe sellers are present almost every week. Visitors need to be prepared to either join a long queue to buy a crepe or get to the market early. The crepes are very popular. It's also advisable for a visitor to arrive early if they want the best selection of baked goods. As 2 p.m. approaches, the bakery stalls may not have much left to offer visitors. On one visit I arrived at around 12 p.m. and found that a treat that I would have loved to have bought was sold out.
The vendor list for a particular date at the market is posted on the Vancouver farmers market website. A link to this site is provided in the "Resources" section at the end of this article.
A Visit to the Trout Lake Farmers Market
Crafts, Plants, and Entertainment
Crafters are an important part of the Trout Lake market. On a specific day, there may be painters, photographers, potters, woodworkers, jewelry makers, fibre artists, or textile artists present. “Vancouver Farmers Markets” is the society that runs all of the Vancouver markets. It holds a craft jury each year to decide which crafters are allowed to sell their creations.
The market also sells potted plants to grow in a garden, on a balcony, or in a house. These seem to be almost as popular as the food. There are always beautiful flowers for sale. On two of my visits, I've found an interesting carnivorous plants stall.
Entertainment is an enjoyable component of the market. I always discover musicians to listen to. Face painters for children are often present, and a balloon twister is sometimes present as well.
More Market Sights
Benefits of Food From Farmers Markets
Fresh food is the healthiest kind. Fruits and vegetables lose nutrients once they're picked. Ideally, we would all grow our own produce and eat it as soon as it was picked. Most of us don’t have the space or the time to do this, however. The next best thing is to buy straight from a farm.
The growers bring their recently picked produce to the Trout Lake market and set up a temporary stall to sell their goods. The food has been grown locally and has been transported over shorter distances than a lot of the food in supermarkets and grocery stores. In addition to keeping the food fresh, this reduces pollution caused by vehicles.
The 2021 Market: A COVID-19 Version
In 2021, the Trout Lake market opens on May 1st and closes on October 30th. This year's event will be a special version due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The market will be open, but it will contain only food vendors. There will be no food trucks, craft vendors, flower or potted plant displays, entertainers, or information displays at the market. In addition, certain rules will be in effect.
- The market requests that only one person from each family shops for food.
- Social distancing rules will be in operation and a limited number of people will be allowed into the market at a time.
- The market will be open during the usual hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first half hour will be reserved for seniors and people with mobility problems, however.
- Shoppers may not eat at the market.
- This year, no pets will be allowed.
Farmers markets are open in Vancouver because food vendors are classified as an essential service. Unfortunately, this year it's important that the markets are used simply to obtain fresh food and not for the usual socialization and entertainment. People are being asked to "Shop, don't stop."
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In 2021, people can order online from the vendors that will be present on a particular Saturday. They can then pick up their order at the back of the vendors' stalls instead of walking through the area where most people travel.
Trout Lake and John Hendry Park Scenes
John Hendry Park
In the late nineteenth century, John Hendry Park was located near the site of the Hastings Sawmill. The mill and park were owned by John Hendry, an important man in the local lumber industry. Trout Lake, which is a natural peat bog lake located in the park, was the water source for the mill.
John Hendry’s daughter donated her father’s land to the Vancouver Park Board on condition that the new park was named after her father. Local people tend to call the park Trout Lake Park though, or simply "Trout Lake", since the lake is such a large and popular feature in the park.
The park has an area of 27.31 hectares or about 67 acres. It's a popular place for dog walkers. At one end of the lake near the farmers market, there's an area where dogs are allowed to enter the water and play off leash. They do both of these things with great energy and enjoyment. All of the dogs seem to get on very well with each other. At the opposite end of the lake is a larger area that is reserved for human swimmers and where dogs are not allowed. A lifeguard is present in this area in summer, and the concession stand is open.
John Hendry Park is very pleasant for people who would like to sit on the grass or on a bench and read a book, talk to friends or family, have a picnic, or watch people and dogs playing in the park. I usually buy a baked treat at the market and eat it while sitting on the grass, like many other people do. Special events are held in the park throughout the year, including a popular lantern festival and a series of outdoor concerts.
Activities and Facilities in the Park
A new community centre has been built in John Hendry Park. Market visitors might find its washrooms handy. The centre also offers free WiFi to everyone, whether or not they live in Vancouver. Food and drinks are available in vending machines and in a small cafe if it's open. The centre contains an ice rink. It's located half way between the dog beach and the human beach. It's easy for a person with normal mobility to walk to the community centre from the market and doesn't take long.
The park also contains playgrounds, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, sports fields, a picnic site, and additional washrooms. It's a great place for community sports. The trail around the lake has a good surface for jogging. There’s lots for children and sports lovers to do in the park.
The lake and the surrounding trail is a nice area for nature lovers and an enjoyable area to explore after visiting the market. A wide variety of birds live in the habitats around the lake. Despite its name, however, the lake contains no trout. Although sections of the land bordering the lake have been cleared so that people can sit in an open area, others have been left in a wild condition. These wilder areas are the parts that I find most interesting.
The farmers market is set up in a parking lot at the north end of the lake. The dog beach is also located in this area. The human beach ("Trout Lake Beach") is larger than the dog one and is located at the south end of the lake.
Taking the SkyTrain to John Hendry Park
SkyTrain is a rapid transit system that extends through Vancouver and the surrounding communities, mostly on an elevated track. The train stops close to the farmers market at the Broadway or Commercial Drive station, depending on the line. The two stations are next door neighbours and are connected to each other. It's easy to reach the market from downtown Vancouver via SkyTrain.
It's a short walk from the SkyTrain station eastwards along Broadway and then southwards down Victoria Drive to the park. The walk is easy for people of normal mobility.
I use SkyTrain to reach the park because it gives me a chance to get some exercise. I have to walk from my home to the first station and then take a shorter walk from the second station to reach the park. It's interesting to see people carrying potted plants and other items from the market as I get near the park. The event is popular with the local community and beyond.
Following an Urban Trail
Another alternative for getting to the market is to cycle. The Metro Vancouver region (also known as Greater Vancouver) has a network of urban trails for pedestrians, cyclists, and inline skaters. Many sections of the trails are attractively bordered by plants, making them a pleasant route for travellers.
The trails are very nice for a cautious cyclist like me who dislikes riding a bike in traffic. They are also great for families with young children. One trail passes through John Hendry Park, which is a popular destination for recreational cyclists.
Travelling by Bus or Car
John Hendry Park contains parking lots, although the ones nearest to the market are very busy on Saturday. Buses go along the roads that border the park. Routes and schedules can be found via the link below.
If you’re in the Vancouver area and have a spare Saturday morning, a visit to the farmers market is very worthwhile. It's an enjoyable experience and provides an opportunity to buy fresh, nutritious, and tasty food. John Hendry Park is fun to visit at any time, whether or not the market is operating.
- Detailed vendor information for the market (and other ones), a vendor schedule, and a seasonal produce guide are available at the Vancouver Farmers Markets website.
- The public transit system in Metro Vancouver is run by TransLink. The organization has a trip planner app on its website.
© 2011 Linda Crampton