There are so many country drives available in the Cariboo that one could choose a different destination every weekend to enjoy.
One place to keep in mind on Sundays this spring, summer and fall is McLeese Lake.
The lake offers a great campsite, fishing, and swimming and now a Sunday farmer’s market.
Jan and Bill Borgen had been thinking about starting a farmer’s market for a few years. Last summer with the help of a few other like-minded residents they started the McLeese Lake Farmer’s Market.
Jan, the market manager and association chair, says their first year proved to be quite successful so the market will be starting up again on Sunday, May 15.
They will be open Sundays May through September from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The location of the market is right between the Oasis Pub and the McLeese Lake Tourist Information Centre and steps from the lake.
“We chose Sundays for our market because a lot of business owners work on Saturdays and we wanted to offer a market that didn’t conflict with the Saturday farmer’s markets in Williams Lake and Quesnel,” Jan says.
People can drive out for the day, enjoy lunch, fishing and swimming, and pick up fresh farm produce as it comes in season, she says.
This year she says they have 23 vendors on their roster from McLeese Lake, Kersley, Quesnel and Williams Lake areas.
You won’t find commercial vendors at this small community market which operates by the rule of only accepting members who “bake it, make it, grow it, or raise it” themselves.
In keeping with that criteria you will find jewellery makers, wood crafters, and other artisans selling their creations, along with baking, produce as it comes into season such as lettuce, spinach, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, honey, and a variety of locally produced frozen meat products such as lama, chicken, beef and pork.
At the moment she says they don’t have any fruit vendors, so it would be nice to have some vendors selling raspberries, strawberries, apples and possibly fruit from further south in the Okanagan.
Through the summer, she says people can also expect to see members of the McLeese Lake Fire Department on site selling hotdogs and hamburgers, and in the fall selling fresh locally grown corn.
She says the McLeese Lake Farmer’s Market is a member of the B.C. Association of Farmer’s Markets, so there are strict guidelines on their operation. All of the vendors must have food safe and market safe certification.
Even the vendors selling homemade body creams and soaps must have their formulas registered, Jan notes.
She says one of her goals this year is to increase the number of local growers participating in the Sunday markets and involve more children and younger people in the enterprise. She says one 10-year-old is looking forward to selling her jewellery and vegetables she grows.
“The market has been really good for our area,” says Jan in inviting people to come out for a Sunday drive, pick up what they need at the market and enjoy the lake, fishing or swimming or just having a picnic or lunch at the OASIS.
“We’ve been really lucky,” Jan says. “Being on the highway we’ve had people from all over the world stop.”