The Winston Churchill of Farmers Markets - Artisan Farmer Markets
November 9, 2016

The Winston Churchill of Farmers Markets

As most of you have read, Lyn’s retirement party was a blast. The meal was so beautifully prepared by selected chefs Edwin and Elizabeth from the Clean Plate Catering company, using many of the meats, fish, veggies and other goodies from the vendors of Artisan.

For those of you who were unable to attend, one of the highlights was the entertaining speech titled “The Winston Churchill of Farmers Markets” which Doug Lowe, our M.C. for the evening, wrote and so eloquently presented.

The speech started off with so many well deserved accolades before getting into Lyn’s long and impressive history in founding Artisan Farmer’s Market Society 18 years ago and growing it to what it is today, with help in no small measure from Marie Forstbauer and in more recent years from board member Mhora Ogmundson and Burnaby Astisan Farmers’ Market Manager, Ron Gorman.

DougIt was great to see so many of you make your way to Chilliwack in honour of Lyn and her retirement. Several people took the lectern to say a few kind words about Lyn, and poke some good fun at her, including Natalie Forstbauer.

Doug was kind enough to share his script which I’ve posted below. The full speech is worth the read, especially to those of you who are more intimately involved with Artisan Markets. Here it is:

Lyn’s Retirement speech October 2016

It is a great honour for me to speak about Lyn Hainstock and her accomplishments.  Since I joined the markets 10 years ago she has always been the driving force.

She’s finally done it or doing it after several previous attempts when the Board realized that Lyn is just too valuable to let go and pleaded with her to stay on.

“Lyn we need you just one more year.” And then another October would arrive just before she left for Mexico, we would plead, “Lyn we need you just one more year”. Besides who could do what she does?

More than just a Farmer’s Market

Lyn did so much more than bring a bunch of vendors together and throw up some signs about a market happening.  She created a culture in those neighbourhoods of North Van, West Van and Burnaby.  Giving people a place to go and meet and chat with friends and make new friends is important in our busy lives.  I can remember many times when people have met up and shared current events of their lives.  So it’s  so much more than grabbing some apples and lettuce at the market and driving off again.  It’s so much more including walking the dog, meeting friends, listening to the wonderful musicians, enjoying market activities such as the pie contest or face painting, the crazy zucchini races.  And then grabbing a bite from one of the food trucks.  It’s an event or a local festival that’s going on.  Lyn knew the value and should be honoured for adding so much more to these communities.

Who could keep all the vendors happy, the customer’s content and all the entertainers playing?  She always has her finger on the pulse of the market. I think we all feel a little bit adrift and we feel pained in trying to replicate what she has done for so any years.  After all none of us would have been here if it WASN’T FOR LYN.  Think of friendships, romances and even marriages that started at these markets.

For Lyn, we were her extended family.  She knew all of our names, many of our life stories, our idiosyncrasies, our preferences, and she truly cared about each and every one of us.  I remember recently after a long day at the market we were all ready to go home. One vendor’s van would not start and Lyn waited for hours making a plan and ensuring she was safe during this ordeal.  She used her BCAA card to get her a tow all the way back to the valley. And this was hours after the end of that market but she stayed there until she was looked after.  This is just one example of Lyn’s style and the caring she demonstrates each day at the market.

She was never shy in offering advice to the vendors to make their stalls look better or to develop better rapport with the customers.  She often stopped by my stand and complained about the table cloths being off centre or the laminated signs not pretty enough.  Good advice that was always useful.  She encouraged us all to be better at the market.

Lyn was the one who promoted the farmers market to all levels of government.  Spent countless hours at City Council meetings, talking with city staff, street merchants, and the public about the benefits of the farmers market.

Even in Mexico she was busy getting ready for the markets.  I don’t think there was one day in the year that she was not doing something for the markets.  I know this because when we went down to visit her, her kitchen counter was filled with forms, papers planning pages.  It was down in Mexico I realized how fearless she is.  She drove us all over the country stopping here and there,  and driving, she drives like a Mexican, fast and furious.  Even in Mexico, her compassion for others is evident.  Near her villa, there was an open ditch that crossed the road.  It was Lyn that paid for a culvert to be installed and the roadway paved over.  She treats her guests with care, asking what they would like to do, driving them around to the sights, to the airport and to meet her friends.  She never lost that Mexico tan throughout the summer.  Her in her flip flops, tanned feet and painted toenails, blond hair, colourful clothes.  A real surfer girl.

A Bloody Nightmare … The Good Kind, of Course!
She is really a gem. Of course we all know the common phrase she uses when asked how things are going when the common problems arise.

It goes like this:
we ask how’s it going Lyn
she responds “Oh, it’s a nightmare, a bloody nightmare”.

Then, next week, things appear to be calmer. It is still, “LYN, how are things going” and she responds “Oh, it’s a bloody nightmare”.

Just a reminder here, it is usually one or more of us vendors cancelling unexpectedly that brings this response.  But I did expect it at least 50% of the time. But I kinda liked it. “It’s a bloody nightmare” became my favourite phrase.

Never Giving Up the Quest to Make the Markets Better

But she never gave up and always kept striving to make the markets better. She and the board have had many discussions with the city councils to advocate for the citizens to have a decent market location. And we go through this every year. Slowly the councils begin to recognize that farmers’ markets help develop a community.

So English, So Lyn. So English … Sort of like Winston Churchill during the battle of Britain. He said something a little different but like Churchill, Lyn would stand in the middle of the market in any weather and say “We shall defend our markets whatever the costs shall be. We will never surrender. She fought for us all really.  Tough but tender, dedicated and passionate, loyal and determined”.

The Artisan Farmers markets are a big part of her, a big part of us.

When Mary Forstbauer died, I think I can speak for everyone when I say, I feel her spirit still lives on in the market. Even though lyn is retiring, she is leaving an indelible mark that will live on and the relationships she has created between the vendors and customers will carry on. And when each morning I arrive at the markets, early as is my trademark, when I ask “How’s it going”, I will want to here “It’s a nightmare a bloody nightmare”.

Lyn, I want you to know how much you mean to all of us. You have our admiration and love as you strike out on your new path. Now there’s more time to enjoy life, your two daughters, Wendy and Nicki, and granddaughter Canyon. And can you imagine Lyn now sitting back in an EasyBoy watching TV. “Not Likely!” She is now entering another project … a boutique hotel with her daughter in Mexico.

Artisan Markets