Below you’ll find some interesting information about some of our wonderful Moss Street Market vendors and community members. For additional vendor profiles, you can also visit our Moss Street Market Blog.
This next Profile features a veteran Moss Street Market farm offering beautiful organically grown Asian vegetables and a solid sense of community:
Umi Nami Farm
Madoka Yasumura, who represents Umi Nami Farm at Moss Street Market, has watched the market grow over the last fourteen years. When they first started plenty of people believed that cucumbers grew shrink-wrapped. Today people have become more trusting of the Moss Street vegetables offered and often ask for new uses for the products that they eat and use.
At the Moss Street Market, as with the Umi Nami Farms, the customer is able to question the producer about the method of production and the way they farm. The unique advantage of a farmers market is that those questions and concerns are asked and answered immediately.
Madoka knows her products well, “Shoppers usually want to know whether something is organic or not. The questions are usually intelligent and well thought out and demand honest answers.”
Stallholders like it because they get appreciation for their efforts. It is amazing to watch how quickly the rapport is build up with their regular customers. Madoka states “It was different when we started, we were apprehensive at first but we quickly found out what was needed, and the Moss St. atmosphere was lovely.” It is reassuring that people come back time and again and tell us how much they like the products, this is a real confidence booster.
Madoka is very popular with her customers and the other stall holders because she always has an infectious smile and a good word for everyone. Through her and her fellow staff members, the Umi Nami farm has brought their special brand of farming right to Victoria’s doorstep. Madoka is confident about her role in the market. She is always available for a chat or to show a customer how to properly prepare and use Japanese vegetables. So next you come to Moss Street seek her out and say Hi or Konnichiwa. She answers to both
Joanne Marks discovered an affinity with herbal medicine over thirty years ago, quickly falling in love with the art of wild crafting and working in tune with the seasons. Early on she found a joy in the process of making herbal oils and salves, gently coaxing out the medicinal properties of the herbs through the use of menstrums such as oil and alcohol, in order to make these properties readily available for us.
Joanne spent time as a youth in the wilds of the Yukon where vast meadows of Fireweed grow. The Flower Essence of Fireweed is courage. A ground breaker, it is the first to come in after an area has been all but destroyed by fires, providing nutrients for a succession of forest plants and trees to follow. The name of her line of herbal oil and salves ‘Fireweed Botanicals’, honours these wild places.
90% of the herbs used in Joanne’s herbal remedies are ecologically and consciously wild crafted. She believes strongly in a co-creating relationship with nature. Joanne has a deep respect for plants, explaining “Plants were here long before us, we evolved from their basic elements and rely on the oxygen, food and medicine they produce.”
Joanne demonstrates her philosophy in action, taking only so much of each plant and area allowing for continual regeneration. Her Balm of Gilead oil is made from the buds of the Black Cottonwood tree. (You may recognize that sweet syrupy smell of the buds so characteristic of spring.) Joanne has cultivated a relationship with a local grove of Cottonwood trees that she has been harvesting sustainably for the past eight years.
The complete line of Fireweed Botanical’s herbal oils and includes: Calendula Oil ~ for circulation, first aid, sensitive skin, nurturing, and babies; Dandelion Flower Oil ~ for stress and tension causing muscular tightness and pain; Balm of Gilead Oil ~ for sore muscles and injuries; Lavender Flower Oil ~ for calming, healing, protecting; and the popular Herbal Relief Oil. Also offered are her deeply relaxing Foot Massage Salve, and the healing First Aid Salve, all externally applied.
Joanne’s best seller is her Herbal Relief Oil, a chronic pain relief oil for those suffering from muscle pain or pain due to nerve damage, arthritic inflammation or living with demanding physical activity. This special formula combines the unique properties of three oils: Dandelion Flowers, St John’s Wort Flower, and Black Cottonwood bud. The herbs are solar infused or low heat extracted in cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. To further promote well being, a blend of complimentary Flower Remedies is added to enhance the oils and salves.
In addition to sharing her healing salves and oils at the MSM, Joanne is the proprietor of Fireweed Holistic Health & Education. As a Clinical Herbalist and Bach Flower Practitioner she offers Herbal and Nutritional Consultations, Bach Flower Therapy sessions for people and animals; and a healing practice combining training and skill as a Spiritual Clairvoyant and Chakra Energy Practitioner.
As an Educator Joanne helps to pass down the traditional knowledge of working with plant medicines in her Woman’s Medicine Workshop. This course focuses on wild crafting local plants, medicinal properties and folklore, oil extractions and salve making, with a journey into the history of women as healers.
To find out more about upcoming workshops in Herbology or Bach Flower Remedies, or to book a private consultation please contact Joanne at 250-381-6171 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
This next Profile celebrates ideas of innovation in organic farming and inspires warm thoughts on the potential for great leaps in food security on the Island:
New to MSM this year is SunTrio Farm, they specialize in greenhouse grown hot crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers. Moss Street vendors and patrons alike are ecstatic to discover these beautiful organically grown treasures appear at our doorsteps. What a treat to have fresh and delicious local tomatoes the first week of May!
SunTrio Farm is owned by three brothers ~ Michael, Frank and Dennis O’Brien. From a family of ten, the brothers had their introduction to growing food at a young age as they grew up tending their subsistence garden as boys in Ontario. The brothers branched out into different professions before coming together to create Suntrio in 2008. Located in Saanichton, SunTrio Farm is 4 acres of greenhouse and outdoor farming space. In addition to the hot crops they also grow strawberries, basil, salad greens, sprouts, and field veggies too.
SunTrio is our only organic greenhouse operation in the area and is in transition to certified organic (IOPA). They hope to gain full certified organic status this summer. All crops are grown in soil without the use of artificial lighting. Tomatoes, peppers and cukes and started around Christmas time. The greenhouses are maintained at a temp of around 70° and by April the first tomato begins to blush. The same plants are grown until late November and then replaced by new starts the following month to continue the cycle…that is tomatoes nine months out of twelve! At the peak of the season the tomato plants reach over 25ft and the cukes weave up to the ceiling and back down again on vines over 16ft long!
In addition to their MSM booth in Farmer’s Row you can visit Suntrio’s lovely indoor farm stand at 8214 East Saanich Road from May – Nov 9am-8pm daily.
Cheers to the O’Brien brothers for helping us eat closer to home and gain a greater sense of food security on the Island!
These next profiles honor the passing of two dear and dedicated members of our MSM community:
Bernice Packford was a devotee since the beginning. She made a point of buying from each farmer to show support. Bernice was an activist who believed in the power of food and community. At the age of 90 she became an urban farmer. Bernice was 95 years active.
Frank Lowe was a farmer at Moss St. Market almost since the beginning. He was always ready with a joke and a smile with his wife, Joy, and their five grandchildren who supported them. One entertained those on farmer’s row with his accordion music. Frank could always be seen driving up Moss St. in his old sputtering old maroon camper van at Saturday’s end, waving as he went. Frank was 84 years young.