Underground Market for Vancouver BC

I have been following closely the adventures of the Underground Market that was started up in San Francisco a couple years ago and I would really like to see one get going here in Vancouver BC. I recently read this update from them, which takes a look at the lessons they have learned over the year and mentions that these types of markets have sprung up in Boise Idaho, Amsterdam, London and Colorado. If Vancouver wants to stay on the cutting edge of food security and sustainability this is a key ingredient.

We have a date and location for our first meeting, please join us to brainstorm…Tues March 15 @ 6:30 – 850 East 13th Ave.

The very first Underground Market they held in San Francisco was visited by Health Inspectors, tipped off by someone from a normal Farmer’s Market (they were upset by these vendors not having to pay all the fees etc etc that Farmer’s Market vendors have to pay). The Health Inspectors were actually very friendly and gave them some tips on how to do this legally. Basically they had to form a club and every vendor and shopper has to join for free by signing up and providing a legitimate email address. Seems simple and logical enough. Under the umbrella of a private club there is no reason why you can’t eat food that your neighbour makes in their own home.

With the current economy very shaky and looking to get more so a market like this will be a huge help for up and coming food-vendors. As the San Francisco Underground Market webpage says:

The SF Underground Market is an incubator. A place where budding businesses can get a leg up on their road to legitimacy.

By signing up I state that I am an adult, and understand that upon entering the SF Underground Market, I will have the option to consume products made by the participants and that the products may have been produced in a space not inspected by the health department. By signing up I agree that ForageSF as the sponsor of SF Underground Market and its organizers will have no liability whatsoever, and will be held harmless by me for any liability, injury, loss or damages to me due in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the use of any product at the Market or while on the premises of the Market.

Since they started the market about a year and a half ago with only 8 vendors, they have now grown to 47 vendors. It is wildly successful. In order to become a vendor all you have to do is have something to sell, have your own table and pay $50 for either the night or day market, this also covers the electricity fees. You don’t need to have produced your food in a commercial kitchen and you don’t need to pay for insurance or whatever else you normally have to pay for at Farmer’s Markets. I have personally found that Vancouver’s markets are a little lacking in the food vendor area–perhaps this is why. I have also found that Vancouver’s Farmer’s markets are rather elitist. I couldn’t believe it when they had to shut down the food coupon program (which was $15, and wouldn’t actually buy much food) for low income mothers after only a few months for lack of funding! Pretty sad. Compare that to Bel Horizonte in Brazil where they have a zero hunger food policy and manage to have local farm fresh food available and affordable for all citizens.

I am relatively new to Vancouver myself, but being one of the food loving folk (who isn’t really?) I have always dreamed of having some way to sell my food to others. I have been in the hospitality industry for nearly 20 years and have never managed to get enough money together in one place to even be able to have my own food cart. Perhaps this is a way to get started. Plus it is a great way to build community.

I’ve got to be honest. I pretty much suck at organizing things in general. If anyone would like to help get this organized who knows Vancouver a little better. Let’s figure out when and where we can get together, find a venue and get Vancouver’s Underground Market rocking the city. Please post a comment and let’s figure it out! I already know what I am gonna be selling :)

A conversation is going on over at Village Vancouver.

In the meantime watch this video to get some ideas on what we can do if we put our minds to it:

12 Comments

  1. Susanne says:

    Hi Hella

    I am interested in being involved with the Underground Market in Vancouver, but am unable to attend the Tuesday evening meeting. (I thought you guys were kinda full anyway from what I read on VV).

    At any rate, please keep me posted on what you discuss at the first meeting.

    Thank you.

  2. hellaD says:

    We’ve decided a date and location, please join us if you can… Tues March 15 @ 6:30 850 East 13th Ave.

  3. Amy says:

    I would love to see this sort of thing happen! This reminded me of a listing I noticed on Craigslist (http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/van/com/2157448571.html). Though it was posted a couple of weeks ago, I sent an email to the author earlier this week and he responded with a “questionnaire” of sorts including a few ideas on what he and a friend are hoping for the new market : “a market around main/broadway burrard/broadway downtown – locally styled offerings from local artisans, crafters, musicians, etc… (read creators) – free entertainment for the market goers”

    Might be a good idea to get in touch with them!

    And, I second getting involved with Village Vancouver. I joined up with them not too long ago. (Further) discussion around the creation of an independent/underground market is due (http://www.villagevancouver.ca/group/villagevancouverfoodworkinggroup)!

    • hellaD says:

      Oh great, thanks for that tip, that sounds fantastic! I will look him up. I posted this as a blog article on the Village Vancouver site–I guess I have to add it as a discussion, so I just did that as you suggested, thanks so much! Let’s get this thing going :)

  4. Scott says:

    Count me in as well. Sounds like a great idea. Can’t wait to visit the Hella Delicious table :)

  5. Leanne says:

    I’m in. I’m planning on having extra green beans in my garden this summer. And maybe some superfluous backyard eggs.

    • Leanne says:

      Try the VillageVancouver website…there are lots of interesting groups and ideas…we are Sunrise-Hastings Village.

      • hellaD says:

        Hey Leanne that is a great idea, are you on there? I just joined the other day. I am gonna send you an email soon too, I am so happy about your sharing your garden! I hope you will post some of your experiences and photos for us here someday too :)

  6. Richard says:

    Interesting. The private club idea sounds like what Aajonus and his friends are doing in L.A.

    • hellaD says:

      I love the raw, primal diet stuff, as soon as I get my digestion fixed I wanna move towards that much more. Thanks for the tip I am checking some of his vids etc out now!

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