Qualicum Beach is one of Vancouver Island’s mid-island gems. This coastal community and its
kilometres of sandy beach, trails, pleasant parkland, and warm community feel are all reasons
alone to visit. However, there’s also a thriving agricultural network alongside a burgeoning local
food scene to excite palates. Key to their success is the Qualicum Beach Farmers’ Market. This
popular year-round Saturday market began life in 1997, and has grown to be a much loved
fixture for locals and visitors alike.
Located nearby, it took little persuasion for this reporter to go and sample the market firsthand.
A sunny July morning of enthusiastically careering between vibrant vendors ensued. This flighty
method of market exploration is definitely not for everyone however, so I thought it best to round
up some of my must-see sights, tastes and sounds into 8 steps, below.
1. Elevate your morning market stroll. Flyte Cafe
This entirely solar powered converted trailer serves Drumroaster Cobble Hill beans cooked to perfection. And if coffee simply isn’t your thing, a cup of the peach infused lemonade or some of the homegrown flowers on offer will make the sunniest of mornings feel that much brighter.
2. Pastry accoutrement for your beverage. Freyja
Freyja croissants are quite fantastic. The business is owned by a recently emigrated Hungarian couple that have found a niche creating devastatingly delicious croissants in Campbell River.
3. Gifts for the kids (and adults!). Bread + Clutter
Bread + Clutter is a one woman creative force, this artist, author, illustrator and speaker exudes zesty playful hues and boundless energy. You’ll find unique kids books, with illustrations that captivate children and adults alike. Peruse art, stickers, books and more.
4. Something to keep your home beautiful. Ritual, Concrete + Goods
Ritual have arrived to open our eyes to the beauty of polished concrete in home decor. Their stylish creations consist of candle holders, matchstick holders, and incense plates.
5. Stay a While. Enjoy the sounds of Vancouver Island.
With a rotating bill of artists playing a variety of folk, bluegrass, country, indigenous music and everything in between, there’s always a worthwhile musician booked to fill the market air with strummed harmonies and charming ditties. This Saturday served up the feelgood bluegrass of Whitey Somers, an acoustic blues musician.
6. Locally foraged & grown. Van Isle Wild.
From a once overgrown homestead and acres of rewilded land, the couple behind Van Isle Wild have carved out a space, keeping it as near to the way they found it. Their methods are regenerative; from microgreens, to honey production and fungi cultivation. The smoked honey is a must try.
7. Meals with local produce can’t be beet. Heart Beet Farm
Vivacious pops of orange and deep earthy purples from carrots and beets piled high were matched with zesty greens from lettuces, and bushy headed rhubarb. The folks behind Heart Beet Farm were incredibly friendly, and I couldn’t resist bagging some carrots and radishes.
8. Toast the day. Esquimalt Vermouths & Aperitifs
Esquimalt Vermouths & Aperitifs offers intriguing botanically infused concoctions that are perfect for adding a splash of sparkling water to, or spritzing up a cocktail. The couple behind the brand attend markets up and down the island filling glasses with sumptuous tipples.