When my partner Jan & I moved to Gabriola in 2000 there weren’t many opportunities to ‘shop local’. There was a large family-run farm (beef, chicken, turkey) that also had the only licensed abattoir on the island. There was another seasonal market garden that sold veggies and cut flowers. And there were a handful of people selling produce or baked goods at the Farmer’s Market during the summer. Most of the vendors at the market were craftspeople and artisans.
In the intervening years we’ve seen many people come and go, but the population has remained relatively stable at @4000. Many of the newcomers are older retired folks, but we’re also seeing a boom in young families, some of them interested in farming. There are now more farm stands, CSA and farm share programs, local produce in our grocery store and at the Farmer’s Market.
As I drove around the island over the last two days I took photos of all the roadside and farm signs I saw. I pretty much stayed on the North-South Roads circuit and didn’t venture much into the smaller neighbourhoods so I’m sure I’ve missed a few. It’s also shoulder season so others would be closed.
That said, I was amazed at the abundance of what we are growing and making here: meat (beef, chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, pork), chicken and duck eggs, fruits and veggies, cut flowers, berries, cheese, sprouts, honey, bread, cider, baked goods, jams, alpaca yarn & wearables, plant and veggie starts, kindling and planter boxes & vinegars.
Have I missed any? Here’s a little peek at what some of the folks on this island are up to.