Farmers’ markets are an integral part of many communities. They not only provide a way for local growers, farmers, artists, and artisans to connect with a market; they’re a place for residents to meet and mingle on a weekly basis. The Fort St. James Farmers’ Market, which takes place every Friday at Spirit Square, usually has between 8 and 12 vendors, selling items as diverse as clothing, honey, produce, jewellery, and woodwork.
September 12-19 is Farmers Appreciation Week, and the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) is inviting all British Columbians to submit original poems that honour local farmers. It’s their third annual “Ode to a Farmer” poetry contest, which is looking for agriculture-themed poems before the deadline of Sept. 13. The grand prize winner will receive a $150 certificate to spend at the B.C. farmers’ market of their choice, and there will also be a $50 winner from each of the province’s regions: Cariboo-Chilcotin-Coast; Kootenay-Rockies; Northern B.C.; Thompson-Okanagan; Vancouver; Coast and Mountains; and Vancouver Island.
Entries will be judged based on several criteria: relevance to the theme (25%); judges’ impression (25%); poetic structure (20%); spelling and grammar (15%); and originality (15%). The contest is open to all British Columbia residents, and there is a 500 word limit. Submissions—in the form of a haiku, sonnet, poem, or limerick—can be sent via e-mail (http://fluidsurveys.com/s/fawpoetry/?TEST_DATA=&_cb=hiQrQKMn40) or by mail to “ATTN: Poetry Contest, B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, 203-2642 Main Street, Vancouver V5T 3E6”. “We’re looking for people to use their creativity through words to show their appreciation of local farmers who contribute greatly to our communities, health, and well-being,” says Georgia Stanley, the BCAFM’s Communications Manager.
“There is a great tradition of writers finding inspiration from the land that is continued through the ‘Ode to a Farmer’ contest,” says Tamara Leigh, president of the B.C. Farm Writers’ Association, and a contest judge. “I look forward to seeing how people connect creatively with food and farming, and bring it to life in their poems.”
The BCAFM is a not-for-profit association that represents 125 farmers’ markets across the province and works to support, develop, and promote farmers’ markets in all regions of BC. For more information on the BCAFM or to find a farmers’ market near you, visit www.bcfarmersmarket.org.