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New Canmore-based group, market aim to help with food security

“I thought it was a great idea since I’m passionate about food and it’s important for the local economy to be sustainable instead of relying on products from elsewhere."
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Aida Murias, organizer of the bow Valley Root Cellar on Wednesday (March 17). EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – Bow Valley residents will have another option when it comes to finding food from local vendors.

The Bow Valley Root Cellar will hold a weekly community food market Wednesday’s from noon to 6 p.m. at the Canmore Senior’s Centre, featuring vendors from the valley.

While providing residents with opportunities to connect with local sellers, it will also offer subsidized groceries of up to 30 per cent with financial help coming from the Bow Valley Food Alliance (BVFA).

The market has each vendor partner with a volunteer who keeps track of each transaction. When the final bill is calculated, the volunteer shows the customer the lowest and full price and asks what they can pay.

“It is very expensive to live here,” said Aida Murias Alcaide, who launched the Bow Valley Root Cellar earlier in the year. “Having access to healthy and local food can be difficult, so thanks to the [Bow Valley Food Alliance’s] support it can help.”

The market came about after Murias Alcaide had contact with the BVFA, which asked if she was interested in managing the weekly event.

“I thought it was a great idea since I’m passionate about food and it’s important for the local economy to be sustainable instead of relying on products from elsewhere,” she said.

The first day of the market was held March 17 and featured six different vendors.

Murias Alcaide said the market has space in  the senior’s centre until April 28, but are looking at possible larger vendors or holding it outdoors in the summer, though nothing has been confirmed.

She hopes to have a website by May, which will allow customers to buy product from vendors online, then pick up the order at the market, or use the in-person method to shop. The website will also allow people to read up more on the vendors and their products.

There are also plans in the works to host special events and workshops to help educate people on food systems and have community food and drink-related events. Murias Alcaide also added she’s hoping to have a variety of different foods available, while possibly adding something for pets.

For now, people can follow updates on the Bow Valley Root Cellar’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, food security issues in the valley have been a priority for many in the community.

There have been multiple projects and fundraisers launched or expanded in an effort to help residents.

“Since the Bow Valley is a small community, it’s very good at coming together and doing a lot of little things in their own silos,” said Avni Soma, the president of the BVFA, noting COVID-19 has brought food security issues to the forefront of people’s attention.

The group aims to create community-based food systems in the valley that are both equitable and ecologically-regenerative to help all residents.

They created a food charter, which outlines a set of principles for a community in what they want local food systems to be. It was created after community consultations in Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and MD of Bighorn.

While the Bow Valley Root Cellar market has just begun, Murias Alcaide said there was a strong turn out and people have expressed the intent to keep going.

“People were appreciative and said they’d be coming back," she said. "It’s mostly word of mouth, so hopefully the word can spread.”