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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.


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.

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 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 sustainable 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 :)


We will be meeting Tues March 15 @ 6:30 -- 850 East 13th Ave. For this first brainstorming meeting it is probably more practical to not have too many folks or we may not be able to decide anything. At the moment we have about 7 people expressing interest to come and brainstorm and that seems like a good number. If more people are interested in the market, please stay tuned for future meetings.

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Comment by Hella Dee on April 22, 2011 at 11:32pm
Wow, sounds like fun Cylia! Looking forward to it :). Julia, I think Southlands is a bit far for me! but that sounds like fun too :)
Comment by Cylia on April 22, 2011 at 12:41am

Just updated the vendors list for the May 1st Cedar Cottage Garden spring fling event. Eight confirmed vendors so far.  Check it out on the VV Events page.

Other activities -- sale of homemade green tomato chutney, samosas, baking, used books, seed starts, perennials, activated Effective Micro-organisms, other organic garden soil amendments, poetry contest, hula hoop demo, seedball making workshop, tour of West House, Maggie and her chickens, etc.

Comment by Julia Smith on April 21, 2011 at 10:34pm
Southlands Heritage Farm is having their first market on May 15th. Please contact me if you'd like a table :)
Comment by Emi Do on April 20, 2011 at 12:38pm

I would love to partake in learning more about/ participating in the underground market.  Hope to hear more details as per location/ time for the May 10th meeting!



Comment by Hella Dee on April 14, 2011 at 5:16pm

Oh hey, May 10th sounds good. I just got back in town and trying to sort through my emails to find out if we were meeting tonight or not, I guess not...which is nice as it is really rainy and I am rather tired.


Comment by Cylia on April 4, 2011 at 10:04am

Wondering when the next meeting is?  I am no longer available April 14th.

We have one vendor selling seedlings at our May 1 spring fling event, Andrea Bellamy will be selling her book "Sugar Snaps and Strawberries" and leading a kids seedball workshop, a tour of the West House (sustainable laneway housing) booked, as well as baked goods, plants and seedlings for sale.

More to follow as my event happens in less than 4 weeks. 

Comment by Cylia on March 30, 2011 at 7:25am
As I understood it, we discussed rotating the location so that the UM would not be at one place only.  Since we're village based, that makes sense to me. Cylia 
Comment by Julia Smith on March 29, 2011 at 10:41pm
I feel like I already said this somewhere but I can't find it so I'm saying it again..... I have a venue we can use in Southlands if we can do it mid-week. Had major interest in this concept expressed at the cheesemaking workshop this past weekend. Looking forward to working on it more... just let me get through this last week or so of school, then I can pay more attention.
Comment by Hella Dee on March 29, 2011 at 10:32pm
Oh just wanted to share this link as well, not to do with us but an interesting article about a food co-op type situation that went bad:
Comment by Hella Dee on March 29, 2011 at 10:30pm

Awsome Randy! Great thoughts, and good to know that we have great resource people to draw from. Sidewalk boards--great idea! Also, I was dreaming of an idea to get crafters involved, maybe we could get them to make some kind of tokens, crocheted or whatever else. Each type or color could be a different value or something, really creating our own currency! Just some thoughts.


And I was also dreaming of working towards a zero-hunger city, like they have done in Bel Horizonte in Brazil I have been dreaming of going to Bel Horizonte and checking it out for years now, I have heard wonderful things about that program and how they have subsidized farmers to make it work or something.


I was recently contacted by the Atlanta U-market lady and she is setting up some kind of a communication for the various U-markets world-wide to discuss the pros cons and successes/failures.


We are lucky to have a clever accountant in our midst and I really liked your idea for trying to work out a way to subsidize certain people or to also have shoppers favorite and food awards. Keep the brainstorming coming!


I was sick for a week and got really behind in stuff, but looking forward to getting more organized--although this week I have a craniosacral therapy training till Sunday, but after that I will try to put more stuff on the website plus I would like to share the login info with you guys so you can access and use it too. Randy are you still thinking of working on a logo? That will be very nice :)


I'd love to go to Boise too, I think it is pretty far though...sounds like a lovely market there....

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