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Drop by the Riley Park Farmers Market

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The first time I set foot on the Riley Park Farmers Market in summer, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. I love fresh produce, local goods, and the excitement of finding a special thing – in this case, the fleeting four-hour window to buy good food items on a Saturday.

If you share my curiosity and passion for farmers market, I’ve gathered a wealth of information about this market, so you can make the most of your next visit.

What is Riley Park Farmers Market?

What is Riley Park Farmers Market
Image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Riley Park Farmers Market is a market set up every Saturday on the east side of Nat Bailey Stadium on Ontario Street. It’s conveniently situated near Hillcrest Recreation Centre and Queen Elizabeth Park. 

It used to be called the Nat Bailey Farmers Market, which was first held in the Riley Park parking lot in 2002 before it was transferred to Main Street Station and was re-established in 2010. 

For years after that, this same farmers market continued to open weekly during the winter season, and it became the largest of its kind in the province. 

Then, in 2017, the Riley Park Farmers Market made its debut during the summer months as a smaller counterpart to the Nat Bailey Farmers Market.

The year 2018 saw the merging of these two markets under a single name. The outcome? A year-round market that operates every Saturday and sells fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs, craft beer, artisan food products, and more.

Today, the Riley Park Farmers Market is one of the nine weekly markets managed by Vancouver Farmers Markets. The other markets include the ones on Kitsilano, False Creek, and Downtown, among other locations.

What is Riley Park Farmers Market most known for?

What is Riley Park Farmers Market most known for
Image by Ground Picture on Shutterstock 

The Riley Park Farmers Market is best known for being a vital source of fresh, locally sourced food for numerous households. These include low-income households who can get their food through fresh food access programs.

Vancouver Farmers Market operates a fresh food access program called “Fresh to Families,” which provides funding and in that way, extends the reach of the BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCFAM) Nutrition Coupon Program.

The Nutrition Coupon Program caters to 18,000 families and enables them to access fresh and healthy food while affording them the flexibility to choose the food that best suits their needs.

Things to Know about Riley Park Farmers Market

Schedule: The Riley Park Farmers Market is open from April to October for the summer season, and November to March for the winter months.

During both seasons, the market is open every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Location: Both the winter and summer markets are set up at Riley Park, 50 East 30th Ave. & Ontario St. Sometimes, especially when it’s not the baseball season, some vendors set up in the parking lot of Nat Bailey Stadium at 4601 Ontario St.

Admission Fee: There’s no cost to enter the Riley Park Farmers Market. But of course, you have to pay for the products you’ll be taking home.

Parking: If you’re visiting the area for the Riley Park Farmers Market, you can park in the gravel lot south of the Nat Bailey Stadium. You can drive along Midlothian Ave and follow the red signs.

The parking at the Hillcrest Community Centre is reserved for patrons only. And you can’t park in front of residential buildings.

Restrooms: Pending the construction of the Riley Park Pavilion, there is no building that houses restrooms that market-goers can readily use. There may be portable restrooms set up especially when the crowds flock to the market.

Best Time to Go to Riley Park Farmers Market

Best Time to Go to Riley Park Farmers Market
Image by Kevin on Adobe Stock

The best time to visit the Riley Park Farmers Market depends on your specific interests and needs. The market is open year-round, and your choice may vary depending on what you want to explore.

If you prefer a larger market with a wider selection of vendors, the winter market is an excellent option. It hosts over 85 farms, producers, and food trucks, so you can explore more options for your purchase.

If you have a particular vendor in mind that you wish to visit, you may want to check the market’s website or social media pages to confirm if they’ll be attending on a specific Saturday.

If your goal is to enjoy outdoor seating and live music after getting your produce, the summer season may be more to your liking. 

Regarding the time of day, arriving earlier in the day can help you avoid larger crowds. However, keep in mind that the market is only open for four hours once a week, so some level of attendance is to be expected as you browse and shop for products.

What You Can Find in Riley Park Farmers Market

What You Can Find in Riley Park Farmers Market
Image by rawpixel.com on Shutterstock 
  • Fruits and Vegetables: The main attraction at the Riley Park Farmers Market is the fresh and locally grown variety of fruits and vegetables. The market features everything from apples and oranges to tomatoes and zucchini.
  • Dairy Products: Local dairy producers often have a presence at the market, offering a selection of fresh dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. 
  • Meat: There are a number of vendors at the Riley Park Farmers Market selling meat from local farms. Some of the items that you can find include beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and sausage.
  • Seafood: While not as common as some other items, you may find sustainable seafood at the market as well. Vendors offer fresh catches from the sea, including fish, shellfish, and more.
  • Preserves and Prepared Foods: These might include jams, pickles, sauces, and other gourmet items that are mostly created from locally grown ingredients as well.
  • Alcohol: The market often features local craft brewers, wineries, cideries, and distilleries, offering a variety of alcoholic beverages. You can find unique, small-batch options to enjoy responsibly.
  • Arts and Crafts: The market is a great place to discover local artisans and crafters, though this segment is a lot smaller compared to fresh produce. You can find handmade jewelry, pottery, and textiles that make for memorable keepsakes.
  • Baked Goods: Several vendors at the market specialize in fresh baked goods. You can indulge in a wide array of artisan bread, pastries, cookies, and other sweet treats. Many use locally sourced ingredients for their creations.
  • Food Truck Fare: Aside from vendors selling food and beverages at their booths, there are also food trucks at the Riley Park Farmers Market. This allows visitors to buy burgers, tacos, coffee, and smoothies while at the market.
  • Plants: The market features some vendors offering flowers, herbs, and sometimes even small shrubs or trees. These plants are perfect for gardeners and those looking to add some greenery to their homes.

Tips for Shopping at the Riley Park Farmers Market

Tips for Shopping at the Riley Park Farmers Market
Image by j.chizhe on Shutterstock 
  • Explore Seasonal Produce: Take advantage of the seasons by trying out fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. They are often at their peak in terms of flavor and quality.
  • Bring Cash: While some vendors may accept cards, it’s a good idea to bring cash, as not all vendors may have card payment options available.
  • Bring Reusable Bags: Help reduce waste and make it easier to carry your purchases by bringing your own reusable bags.
  • Plan Ahead: If you have specific vendors or items in mind, check online in advance to confirm their attendance. If you plan to explore the area, check if the Bloedel Conservatory or Hillcrest Community Centre is open.
  • Chat with the Vendors: If the vendors aren’t busy, visiting the market is a great way to learn about the production process. Through a more personalized informative experience, you can also show appreciation for the vendors’ hard work.

Other Things to Do at the Riley Park Farmers Market or Nearby

Donate to the Riley Park Community Garden
Image by wavebreakmedia on Shutterstock 

When you visit the Riley Park Farmers Market, you have the option to contribute to the Riley Park Community Garden, which has a tent stationed at the market. 

You can donate CAD 10 or 25. Donations can help raise money for the Food Hub programs that directly support the Little Mountain Neighbourhood House client families in need. 

This is a great way to get involved in local sustainability efforts and make a positive impact on the community.

Listen to Live Music

Listen to Live Music
Image by CeltStudio on Shutterstock 

The market occasionally features live music performances during both the summer and winter seasons. So you can enjoy the delightful atmosphere all year round while you stroll through the market or have your lunch.

Depending on the band playing at the time you’re there, you can enjoy some folk music or blues. 

If you’re planning to stay for a bit after grabbing your fresh produce, you can also check the market’s social media pages for upcoming performances.

Hang out at the Old Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre

Hang out at the Old Vancouver OlympicParalympic Centre
Image by Chase N. via Wikipedia

Riley Park is not only home to the farmers market but also houses the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre as well. 

This facility gained prominence as the venue for curling events during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Today, it’s now revitalized as the Hillcrest Centre, a versatile community space offering activities such as skating, dance, and curling, among others.

Aside from those, it also includes a childcare centre, pool, library, and cafe. As you can already tell, it’s a well-designed multi-purpose space, so it’s an inviting place to stay at.

Check out the Views from Queen Elizabeth Park 

Check out the Views from Queen Elizabeth Park
Image by adorayj9 on Shutterstock 

While not directly part of the Riley Park Farmers Market, Queen Elizabeth Park is located nearby and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the North Shore Mountains. 

You can take a leisurely stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens, explore the Quarry Garden, and enjoy a serene escape amidst nature. 

The park’s elevated location – the highest point of Vancouver, actually – provides stunning vantage points, making it a perfect spot to take in the city’s skyline and natural beauty. 

The park is also home to the Bloedel Conservatory, a domed structure replicating a temperate climate to simulate the natural habitat of birds and plants in the garden. Admission is paid, but it’s all worth it if you want to interact with nature up close.

How to Get to Riley Park Farmers Market

Cars: From Waterfront Station, for instance, you can take Manitoba St., Main St., or Peveril Ave. Depending on the hour, it might take around 15 to 40 minutes to get to Riley Park Farmers Market. 

Buses: You can take the #3 Main Street Bus and #33 29th Ave Station Bus to get to Riley Park Farmers Market.

Trains: You can take the Canada Line on the Skytrain, get off at King Edward Station, and walk for 17 minutes to the Riley Park Farmers Market. 

Where to Stay near the Riley Park Farmers Market

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Vancouver-Downtown

Address: 111 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8, Canada
Phone: +1 604-602-1008
Pricing: $
Book Now

Hampton Inn & Suites is a nine-minute car ride from Riley Park Farmers Market. Located near Canada Place Cruise Ship and BC Place Stadium, it’s conveniently situated at the heart of the action.

Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre (Broadway), an IHG Hotel

Address: 711 W. Broadway, Heather St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 3Y2, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-879-0511
Pricing: $
Book Now

Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre offers a range of amenities, including an indoor pool and sun deck. The hotel is also conveniently situated, just seven minutes from both Vancouver city center and the Riley Park Farmers Market.

OPUS Vancouver

Address: 322 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5Z6, Canada 
Phone: +1 866-642-6787
Pricing: $$
Book Now

If you’re seeking a vibrant and artistic atmosphere, the Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre offers rooms adorned with captivating pop art and walls painted in striking colors like periwinkle. 

Beyond its bold design, the hotel provides a range of amenities, including in-room iPads and a complimentary dog walking service.

Georgian Court Hotel, WorldHotels Elite

Address: 773 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2M4, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-682-5555
Pricing: $$
Book Now

Georgian Court Hotel allows guests to cross from Chinatown and Yaletown to the financial district. The hotel’s atmosphere is just right for unwinding, with their on-site restaurant, Frankie’s Italian Kitchen, and Frankie’s Jazz Club next door.

Hotel BLU Vancouver

Address: 177 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-620-6200
Pricing: $$
Book Now

Hotel BLU is just an eight-minute drive from Riley Park Farmers Market. If you’re passionate about eco-friendliness and sustainability, this hotel aligns perfectly with your values.

Aside from its earthly ambiance, the hotel is committed to being a plastic bottle-free zone, so be sure to bring your reusable water bottle when you stay here.

Where to Eat near the Riley Park Farmers Market

Le Marché St. George

Address: 4393 St George St, Vancouver, BC V5V 4A3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-565-5107
Pricing: $$
Website

This coffee shop doesn’t look like a cafe at all because it’s located in a completely residential area. But the indoor and outdoor seating are both great places to spend the day.

You must try their delightful French baked goods, light meals, as well as coffee and tea to truly appreciate their unique flavors.

The Fish Counter

Address: 3825 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P1, Canada 
Phone: +1 604-876-3474
Pricing: $$
Website

Pacific Cod, Oyster Po Boy sandwich, and Crab & Shrimp Baguette – these are some of the most interesting items on the menu of The Fish Counter.

While it may not be consistently perfect, it’s worth checking out for its generous portions, flavorful dishes, and good service.

Hawkers Delight

Address: 4127 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-709-8188
Pricing: $
Website

If you’re looking for a restaurant offering Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines, Hawkers Delight is only a 12-minute walk from the Riley Park Farmers Market. 

You can try their Hainanese chicken rice and chicken curry, and complement your meal with some good beer, wine, or tea. The staff here is always attentive, so you can get a pleasant dining experience at this restaurant.

Hero’s Welcome

Address: 3917 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-879-1020
Pricing: $
Website

Just a 15-minute walk from the Riley Park Farmers Market, you’ll find Hero’s Welcome on Main Street. A community pub, this spot has darts, pool tables, skeeball, foosball, and pinball that can add some fun to your drinking session.

The drinks we got were a little on the sweet side. But they offer a diverse selection, so you’re likely to find something that suits your tastebuds.

Where to Shop at the Winter Market 2023

Mandi’s Mickles

Address: West Vancouver, BC, Canada
Phone: +1 (778) 997 6336
Website

Mandi’s Mickles, a local producer of lacto-fermented dill pickles, offers certified naturally grown products at the Riley Park Farmers Market. Their selection includes flavors like Tangy OG, Drunken Dill, Spicy Gal, and Summer Chutney.

Many loyal customers keep coming back to stock up on these delectable pickles, so if you spot them at the market, it’s worth giving their pickled goodness a try.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses

Address: 5634 McCallum Road Agassiz, BC V0M 1A3
Phone: +1 (604) 796 8741 ext 2
Website

If you’re a cheese lover, you should check out The Farm House Natural Cheeses and when they’re scheduled to attend the farmers market at Riley Park. They offer a wide range of dairy delights, including cow and goat cheeses, goudas, and castle blue.

In addition to cheeses, they provide various dairy products such as cultured butter and Greek-style yogurt. This vendor is your one stop shop for all things milky and cheesy.

Ostro Organics Inc.

Address: Victoria BC, Canada
Phone: +1 (778) 922 2229
Website

If you’re on the hunt for cold-pressed organic oils and butter at the market, be sure to check out Ostro Organics. 

As their name suggests, they specialize in growing and selling organic products. They take pride in their commitment to quality as they extract their products weekly and aim to preserve the original flavors and nutrients in their offerings.

River and Sea Flowers

Address: Westham Island Delta BC Canada
Phone: +1 (778) 877 2224
Website

For those who have weddings to organize or attend, or just want to have some fresh flowers on a vase at home, River and Sea Flowers feels like some heavenly addition to the market stalls.

They present a diverse selection of flowers, from pincushion blooms to snapdragons, with availability varying by season. It’s also worth noting that the flowers they grow on Westham Island are certified organic flowers, too! 

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