An onslaught of creative residents are picking from their garden, pickling or putting finishing touches on hand-crafted goods in preparation for this season’s Rossland Mountain Market unveiling Thursday.
The summer market, hosted by Rossland REAL Food, not only highlights buying quality goods locally but is also fertile ground for entrepreneurs who are looking for a way to market their talent or passion.
“I think that people like to have a sense of community and farmers’ markets really offer that,” said organizer Rachael Roussin.
“A farmers’ market is never just shop and get out – it’s a holistic opportunity, where you meet your neighbours, you listen to some music, you see local artisans and you connect all around.”
Roussin knows all too well how inspiring it can be to be part of a market full of residents with a creative flair.
It wasn’t long after edible garden tours taught her not to give up on mastering her green thumb that she decided to bring something to the market table.
“Holly cow, when I moved to Rossland six years ago my first gardens were so bad,” she laughed.
“I was digging in clay soil and putting like 200 carrot seeds in a square foot and wondering why nothing seemed to work!”
When her small garden at home in her north-facing yard wouldn’t produce pickling cucumbers, her search for a more rewarding space sent her back to Rossland’s original farming neighbourhood.
“I guess in an aspect I like to be close to the heritage of Rossland,” she said looking over her terraced garden in upper Happy Valley. “When I lift up that floating row cover and I see that beautiful lettuce, that’s art to me, that’s beauty.”
Now operating Happy Valley Greens, Roussin is one of the 15 vendors ready to highlight her product in downtown Rossland Thursday afternoons until mid-October.
Though she has little gardening background, Roussin has learned how to successfully grow an array of greens – including butter head, romaine and speckled leaf lettuce mixed with spicy greens and herbs. Her gourmet mixes are harvested from her temporary garden (located on Tom and Julie Shaefer’s property) the same day they’re packaged and sold for $4 a bag.
But she is considered a small grower with only five beds, compared to some of the other non-industrial vendors within a 100-kilometre radius, which include Mad Dog Farm from Castlegar and Grand Forks’ Centre Road Farm.
“My favourite is the opportunity to purchase unique, seasonal vegetables,” said Roussin, not to mention the joy of meeting the farmer who grows the food. “So you cook dinner that night and you might have golden beets and purple carrots and exotic peppers, it’s really an unusual eating experience because our conventional food system has trained our brain that food can only look and feel one way.”
But produce is not the only star at the market, which also features local artisan creations, baked goods, soap, jewelry and for the first time is stretching the “make it, bake it grow it” rule by showcasing imported Thai clothing.
Known as the “cupcake lady,” Rebecca Gilhula from Sweet Dreams Cakery is back by popular demand.
“Last year I thought if nothing it would be good advertising because I don’t have a storefront so I thought it would be a good way to get my name out there,” she said from her bakery located in her heritage home, which is also a bed and breakfast in Rossland. “But it kind of turned into something way bigger than I ever expected.”
Baking up favourites like red velvet cupcakes with raspberry cream cheese icing and lime margarita cupcakes, Gilhula was selling up to 22 dozens at the weekly market. The cupcakes go for $2 a pop or $20 for a dozen.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get me out of the kitchen, too,” she said, adding that originally she thought her bed and breakfast business would trump any demand for cakes but she was proven wrong.
“I think Rossland has a great little business community,” she said. “For a small town, it’s really got a lot of interesting entrepreneurs, especially women in business.”
The market is one of the many projects of Rossland REAL Food, which encourages growing food and strengthening local food systems in the community.
It’s never too late to get involved in the market, said Roussin, who hopes to see a stronger interest from the Silver City this year.
“Trail has a such a strong sense of community and people who love food,” she said, noting that the Colombo Piazza in the Gulch would also make a great location for a market.
Like last year, the market runs from 3-6:30 p.m. every Thursday in downtown Rossland.
Interested vendors should visit www.rosslandfood.com or contact Roussin at 362-5452.
With a greater focus on music this year, interested buskers should call 521-2500 to reserve one-hour slots.