By Steve Hubrecht
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The British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) award winners were announced a few weeks ago, and among them was Columbia Valley economic development officer Ryan Watmough, who took home the award for Farmers’ Market Champion.

This is the first year the BCAFM gave out a farmers’ market champion award, which is meant to honour outstanding advocates for local farmers’ market.

In his acceptance speech, Watmough underscored the importance of farmers’ markets and the local growing industry to the health and economic well-being of the Columbia Valley, a point that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.

“Our people and our food allow us to Live Columbia Valley,” said Watmough in his speech.

Watmough added he grew up in an agricultural area, surrounded by tobacco, cucumber and ginseng fields, but it wasn’t until he moved to the Columbia Valley in 2017 that he realized just how much farmers’ markets act as business incubators. 

“Some of the Columbia Valley’s fastest growing businesses started making in kitchens, basements, garages and backyards. And some of them started selling at farmers markets. We are working hard to support the current and next generation of vendors to meet their goals, while also supporting food security, the environment, social inclusion, workforce development and economic development in 2021 and beyond,” said Watmough in his speech.