Saturday Market Volunteer Feature: Fred Fromm
We know that one of the main reasons people love to visit the UBC Farm Saturday Farmers’ Market is the community: chatting to vendors, seeing friends, spending time with family, and meeting new people. One of the people most marketgoers have likely had a chance to meet is our weekly info table volunteer, Fred Fromm!
Fred is now in his second year volunteering at the market and does an incredible job boosting the market team’s morale, encouraging shoppers to treat themselves to something special, and making everyone who comes through the farm gates feel welcome. Fred’s last day for the 2018 season is coming up this week so we took the chance to ask him a bit more about himself. Come out this Saturday Sept 22 to say hi, let him know how much you appreciate him, and wish him the best on his travels to Europe in October
I would love to hear how you first heard about the Farm and what interested you in coming out?
Well I just moved into the neighbourhood and one Saturday morning I went for a walk and I noticed there’s a UBC Farm. I came in, I looked around, and I noticed there was a UBC Farm tour, and it was actually at 11 o’clock then [free Saturday tours now run at noon] so I thought, “Well I’ll take the tour.” During the tour, Katherine said, “If you want to volunteer, you have to go to the website and take the volunteer orientation,” which I did and then I started picking strawberries. Then it led me to blueberries and then led me to beans and then led me to seeing on the site one day, there was an opportunity for doing Saturday morning. So I quickly put my name down and that’s how I came to do Saturday mornings.
So when you first moved to Vancouver, why were you interested in a farm? What was your background that drew you to farming?
It wasn’t a move to Vancouver but when I was growing up in Saskatchewan to make ends meet, we weren’t very rich, my parents and us as a family had a garden in the city and we had a plot of land outside the city on someone’s farm. We took a bit of the home acreage and made it a parcel of garden. So from 4 or 5 years of age I was out in the garden planting, picking, and it was just something we did to grow vegetables. And I missed it because after we started to work, well I wasn’t in a climate to do that, so for thirty some years I didn’t do that and I saw this, and said “This reminds me of Saskatchewan!”
What are a few of the things you like most about being at the market, helping out here?
Getting to meet all of the people that come in, especially the regulars, and the new people who know nothing about the UBC Farm. So when I come in, I like to work five to eight feet in front of the stall, that’s me. Not behind the counter. Come in, promote the farm, talk to [people], point things out, and like the Wal-mart greeter, I think people feel “I’m welcome.” I’m surprised at how many people are new; mostly surprised how many people use the stamp card: “Well, maybe I won’t,” and in a little while they’re back with all five stamps. And as I talk to some of the market vendors, they notice that people have stamp cards. In fact, now some of them send them: “Oh you don’t have a stamp card, go and get yours, because if I sell to you, then maybe you want the next person to sell to you, and we all benefit.”
This is your second summer helping at the market, have you noticed any changes last year to this year?
It’s gotten bigger, it’s gotten busier, and there’s a much wider mix of vendors selling things. It’s not just fruit and vegetables, it’s products they make to sell, things that maybe wouldn’t get shelf space anywhere else that they come here to sell. I’ve noticed that there’s a lot more local folks who are living here now coming and saying, “Oh, what’s this?”
If someone was new to the market or hadn’t even been to the market, what would you tell them is a great reason to start shopping at our Farmers’ Market?
I think they will find that the quality of the produce and the knowledge of the vendor – where it came from and how it was grown – makes it far more superior than shopping at the local food or vegetable mart or supermarket etc. for the thing. When you can actually sometimes go out and pick your own for u-pick it just makes it that much more enjoyable and that’s why I see for these days of u-picks for strawberries and blueberries, huge number of people, because “I want to bring my kids and let them pick.”
You can find Fred at the Saturday Farmers’ Market info tent every Saturday until September 22 2018. Come say hi or look for him next summer! Learn more about other market vendors and topics on our Saturday Farmers’ Market blog! These weekly market blog posts are linked from our newsletter when they are posted; to get regular updates, make sure to join our newsletter here.