By Ian Bryce
The Coquitlam Farmers Market is one of the longest-running farmers’ markets in the Metro Vancouver. This year, the farmers’ market celebrates its twentieth season.
The market’s humble beginnings hark back to 1996 when four Simon Fraser University students founded the Coquitlam Farmers Market Society as part of a Sustainable Community Development class project.
Terri Evans, then doing a post-baccalaureate diploma in urban studies, was one of the market’s co-founders.
“Before taking my course, I had never been to a farmers’ market and hadn’t thought much about them,” says Evans.
“Having recently moved from Winnipeg, I was looking for a place to create social connections and engage with my community.”
In the market’s early years, Evans and her classmates worked with the City of Coquitlam to secure a reliable space for the market.
“At the time, we were using city space in a way the city hadn’t envisioned,” she says. “We had to convince the city about the benefits of creating space for local food.”
Evans remained heavily involved in planning the market’s development even after completing the sustainable development class project.
“It was by the fifth year that I was able to sit back and watch the market do its thing and think ‘we’ve done it, we’ve changed people’s shopping habits’,” she says.
Today the Coquitlam Farmers Market contributes $1.5 million to the local economy during its summer season alone.
“Farmers’ markets provide a lot of economic activity,” says Evans. “They provide a great opportunity to buy food directly from local farmers, and for people to re-learn knowledge that they’ve lost—such as the seasonality of foods.”
Co-founding the market was also an integral part of Evans’ career at SFU where she is currently program manager of the Urban Studies program and instructor with the department of Geography.
“I advise and have conversations with students on urban food research questions while conducting my own research in the local food space,” she says.
“As an Urbanist, I bring a longer lens to students’ understanding of why cities are organized as they are and what kind of food environments they possess. My experience with the Coquitlam Farmers Market helps inform this perspective.”
In 2014 Evans was recognized for her work with the Coquitlam Farmers Market and advancing healthy sustainable communities by Member of Parliament Fin Donnelly. And in 2002, she received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal for her contribution to community.
Evans says she looks forward to reuniting with some of her fellow students for a farmers’ market anniversary celebration in July.
The Coquitlam Farmers Market runs every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Oct. 30 at the Dogwood Pavilion near the Poirier Community Centre.