Saanich eases rules on farm stands, pop-up markets

Saanich eases rules on farm stands, pop-up markets
File photo.

The District of Saanich is relaxing some of its rules when it comes to roadside farm stands and small-scale farmers markets.

The municipality says it’s changed its bylaws to allow people to set up farm stands on their own property, even in urban areas, with minimal red tape.

“Small producers and market gardeners are able to set up farm stands on their own properties to sell nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables grown at home,” said Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock in a release Tuesday.

“Although they will need a business licence, there is no fee involved as we want to make this initiative easy, convenient and viable for growers.”

The district says a range of “low-risk, value added agricultural products” can be sold at the farm stands, including locally grown fruits, vegetables, jams, trees, apiary products and forest products.

People can also sell “forages and sod crops, grains and seed crops, eggs, local ornamental and greenhouse products.”

Updates for farmers markets

Meanwhile, Saanich has loosened its rules when it comes to local farm markets.

Small “pop-up pocket farm markets” can operate at most schools, parks, community centres, churches and other institutional properties.

“Pop-up markets provide a flexible, low-barrier opportunity for local food producers to combine efforts to sell fresh locally grown agricultural products,” said the district.

The municipality notes that organizers of the pop-up markets have to make their own agreements with property owners before opening.

At the same time, larger-scale farm markets can open at most public parks, rec centres and at the Saanich Municipal Hall.

These markets can sell more items, like meat and seafood, dairy, homemade baking, liquor, arts and crafts products, and ready-to-eat food.

They can also feature mobile food vendors and live entertainment, but market operators are responsible for making sure that all food vendors have proper permits, as well as for any alcohol sales.

“These changes will support local food producers, bring neighbours together and enhance community vibrancy,” said Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers.

“It’s a ‘win-win-win’ for local farmers, for local consumers, and for Saanich’s food security moving forward.”

It’s a far cry from 2019, when a Saanich woman was facing municipal resistance to her roadside jam stand.

After community pushback, the rules eventually changed during the pandemic, when Saanich allowed the woman to continue to operate her stand, and promised to reevaluate some of its bylaws.

More details about roadside farm stands and farm markets can be found on the District of Saanich website.

SEE ALSO: ‘We can’t afford to have that’: Island farm stand owners frustrated by thefts

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