Did you know that Vancouver has eight weekly farmers’ markets: six in the summer and two in the winter? This fall, we’ve teamed up with Vancouver Farmers Markets to host an Edible Scavenger Hunt in honour of our farmers and food producers.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting interesting vendors at neighbourhood markets around the city who can help you check off an item on your list (and maybe even win a prize)!
Fast facts about the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market
- Established: 2013 (Vancouver’s second-newest market)
- Where: 2300 Guelph Street (beside Dude Chilling Park)
- When: Sundays, 10AM–2PM
- Weekly attendance: 1,500 people (one of the fastest-growing in the city)
- No. of vendors: 77 per season, 25 each week
- Claims to fame: (1) A family-friendly location in between two playgrounds and a park; (2) a snap-happy fan base at #MtPleasantFM; (3) the only market with a Salt Spring Coffee stand whose proceeds directly benefit the market
Meet David and Heidi Xiao from Coast Mushrooms
New to the market this year, Coast Mushrooms are certified organic by the Fraser Valley Organic Producers Association (FVOPA), via Canadian organic guidelines.
Q. Tell us a little bit about Coast Mushrooms.
At Coast Mushrooms, we grow specialty mushrooms. Anything that’s rare, strange or exotic—that’s us! Our farm grew from a research facility at UBC into a company in Surrey that provides mushrooms to some really fantastic restaurants in Vancouver and helps meet growing retail demand for Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms.
Q. Why is being organic important to you?
Mushroom growing is either organic or self-defeating. Mushrooms need inputs that are free from fungicides, commercial treatments and pesticides. Any wood product that has been treated is impossible to grow mushrooms on; the same fungicides that prevent the wood from rotting also prevent the mushrooms we are trying to grow. Organic mushroom growing is also more scalable. Inputs that require treatments are more expensive than their natural organic counterparts.
Q. What made you want to be part of the Vancouver Farmers Markets?
We’re a small family business and we were keen to connect with other producers and makers in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver. It has been really interesting exchanging experiences. The mushroom-growing industry is relatively unknown to the average person. We want people to become more familiar with the inputs and labour required to grow mushrooms. Plus, mushrooms are nutritious and tasty, so we want to encourage people to cook with them!
What kinds of mushrooms are you selling today?
A variety of wild and cultivated mushrooms, including Button, Crimini, Portobello, Shiitake, Oyster, Pine (Matsutake), Chanterelles and Lobster mushrooms. We also have dried Morels and Oyster mushrooms.
Q. What’s your favourite mushroom and your favourite way to prepare them?
Chanterelles. Heidi has been making risotto with Chanterelles. It’s time consuming, but mouthwatering. So good. Chanterelles inspire me to completely discard my fear of using fat, like butter. There’s something about the caramelized juices from butter, chicken, Chanterelles, shallots and tomatoes that just hits the spot.
Q. What’s one fun fact about Coast Mushrooms that most people wouldn’t know?
The company’s founder, Dr. Guoping Xiao, is a UBC alumnus and a former professor in the department of soil science. His unofficial English name is Bruce (a reference to the martial arts master and Chinese celebrity Bruce Lee). All of the machines and designs for the farm created by him now share his name: our compost packaging machine, which he designed and assembled, is the Bruce-o-matic, and our repurposed, all-use farm bobcat is the Brucemobile.