Arnes Farmer’s Market


Gimli Life: The farmer’s market on Salt Spring Island attracts people by the thousands. For many people, the summer Farmer’s Market defines Sal t Spring. That’s in spite of their having to pay anywhere from 50 to a 100 dollars to take the ferry from Vancouver Island to Salt Spring. The vendors sell everything from art to cheese to locally made musical instruments. Local musicians perform. It is, as they say, crazy busy. It is a happy place. I love going there. I never intend to buy anything but I always end up spending money. I mean tie dyed underwear, organic tomatoes, gluten free baking.

Everyone benefits. The market raises awareness for local products and producers. It has had a large impact on increasing Salt Spring’s visibility. Visitors buy meals and snacks from local vendors, pile into local restaurants, visit souvenir shops, throng the ice cream and chocolate shops. People come to have a good time and to spend money. Going to the market has become an event to be anticipated, planned, enjoyed.

I was thrilled when I heard that there was a farmer’s market in Arnes. I’d never heard of Dennis Bobrovich but I thought, thank goodness, there is someone around who understands what it is that people want and has set out to meet that demand. People are fed up with big box impersonal stores. Thank goodness for someone who wants people to have a good time.

Farmer’s markets, filled with jam makers, pie bakers, potters, perogi pinchers, antique promoters, bird house builders, sign designers and a host of others, are a place to relax, to have an  hour or two’s strolling in the sun. Today I bought chokecherry jelly and a lemon loaf. I wish I’d bought the Saskatoon pie from the Mennonites.

I had the pleasure of watching Kirk Creed as he worked on a wheel  creating a jug. He is so good a potter that he made it look easy.  I think it is great that I got to watch him create his fine pieces of pottery,  that he gets to demonstrate his skill and knowledge. As he worked, a group gathered and asked questions. Kirk answered the questions, helped to make the visit to the market enjoyable and memorable for those visitors.  His pottery, as one young woman said, is beautiful. Every home should have a piece.

Some people have criticized the municipal council for encouraging people to sell at Arnes rather than at the Gimli harbour. However, the municipal council, now that it represents a much broader area than just Gimli, may feel that to encourage a farmer’s market in town will just increase problems with parking, overcrowd the restaurants, and deplete the supply of Viking helmets.

A friend said to me that the Arnes Market gets better every year. I’m glad to hear that. Camp Morton, Arnes, Hnausa, Finns, Riverton, got a raw deal when Hecla was taken over by the government and highway eight was built without any concern for the impact on the New Iceland communities. These communities with their long histories, their unique cultures, were no longer viable. People in Western Canada have always known how critical the road or railway was that went through town. There have been instances of entire towns being moved because a rail line was going to be built away from them. The builders of highway eight to Hecla must have known that history. It grieves me because Camp Morton, Arnes, Hnausa, Riverton were an important part of my Icelandic heritage.

Dennis, keep building, keep innovating. Nelson Gerrard get more of Riverton’s history up where people can see it and experience it. Let’s get people back on the New Iceland highway.