It’s a blue-sky Sunday in sun-dappled Steveston and I’ve already had my second dessert of the morning. The third – a soft and sweet lemon square – is also calling my name from a shopping bag that’s bulging with produce, treats and more.
Now in its 10th year, the alfresco Steveston Farmers & Artisans Market launched its new season on May 6. Just across the Street from Steveston Community Centre and running twice a month until September 16, its 50 or so stalls combine to fuel what feels like the friendliest market in the Lower Mainland.
Browsers check out the market. | Photo: John Lee
What to buy
On my opening day visit, I circled the market a couple of times to see what was on offer. Several busy bakery stands caught my eye, along with stalls serving sweet treats from ice cream to artisan chocolates. Craft jewelry, handmade soaps, jars of preserves and colourful knitted hats were also drawing lots of attention.
But many shoppers were saving plenty of time to fill up at the bustling produce stalls. On opening day, the market’s fresh-picked farm goodies included peppers, beets, radishes, cucumbers and rhubarb. And as the season progresses, locally-grown cherries, strawberries, blueberries and more will also start to pop-up.
Peppers on a produce stand at the market. | Photo: John Lee
Alongside fruit and vegetables, ice cream is also an essential food group – in my book, at least. Owned and operated by brother and sister team Betsy and Bruce Ng, the market’s Elephant Garden Creamery stand typically serves a dozen or so exotic, handmade varieties. On my visit, that included Mango Lassi, Cereal & Milk and the rich, savour-worthy Vietnamese Coffee.
“We don’t like to make it too sweet – we want the true flavours to come out,” Betsy told me as she handed out samples to a steady stream of salivating passersby. “We’re planning to bring different flavours to the market every time, so you’ll always have new ones to try.”
Bruce and Betsy Ng at the Elephant Garden Creamery stall. | Photo: John Lee
Taking a break from feeding my face, I also perused the market’s jewelry stands – with everything from leather earrings to turtle-shaped brooches – plus an array of stalls selling T-shirts, aprons, handbags and even throw cushions. But while thirsty market-goers clustered for samples at the popular wine and sake stands, I made a beeline for Steveston Soap Company.
“We have about 24 different soaps – and they’re all made at home,” said Yumi Morimoto, the artisan behind the fragrant company. Arranged on her stall like thick slabs of fudge, the bars have names like Sakura, Blackberry Mint and Wine O’ Clock. “The lavender and citrus ones are probably the most popular – people love citrus,” Morimoto added.
Tempting bars at the Steveston Soap Company stand. | Photo: John Lee
The soaps may look edible, but I saved my sweet tooth for a different vendor. Specializing in old-fashioned homemade squares and brownies, Sweetness Squared is back at the market for its fourth year, said Liz Peters, who runs the ever-busy stall with her husband Don.
Peanut butter cup brownies from Sweetness Squared. | Photo: John Lee
Top-sellers among the glass-domed platters on their stand are usually the salted caramel squares and chunky peanut butter cup brownies. But the succulent lemon square I sink my teeth into is my favourite treat of the day, reminding me of my grandmother’s made-with-love approach to baking.
“We do a lot of markets but this one always feels like the friendliest,” Liz tells me, as she slips a few more squares into paper bags for shoppers craving treats to nibble on while they browse. “Steveston is a great outing for people and there’s always a nice family-friendly feel to this market. And it always seems to be sunny here as well!”
Steveston Farmers & Artisans Market
Dates: Two Sundays per month until September - click here for dates.
Time: 10:30AM to 3:30PM
Location: Easthope Parking Lot – across the street from the Steveston Community Centre
Price: Admission is FREE