The Market at Wagner Hills is open
by Keri Vermeulen
Among the horse farms and vineyards of South Langley is a new market that is brimming with nostalgia for village markets of old, and yet alive with hope for the future. With the aroma of cut wood, the faint scent of fresh paint and a palette of soft whites and vintage colours to look at, the Market at Wagner Hills Farm offers an abundance of handmade, homegrown and refurbished treasures.
But this place is more than a shopper’s delight. The Market at Wagner Hills Farm is a social enterprise supporting the residents at Wagner Hills Women’s Campus, a place of healing and hope for women coming out of addiction and brokenness. Through a yearlong program, the women participate in classroom teaching, counselling, Bible studies, group therapy, worship, and recreation. The women also work on the farm, which includes the Market, six greenhouses, a garden, livestock, and a large kitchen.
The Market came out of a longtime dream of Wagner Hills Women’s Campus Director Dawn Bralovich, who envisioned a place where women who were healing from addiction and working through deep hurts could develop a sense of value and worth – by making beautiful things with their hands, learning from artisans and craftspeople in the community, and working together. Along with her friend and design expert Lisa Moody (Grapevine Designs), the gorgeous Market was developed from an old portable building on the grounds. In some ways, it’s a metaphor for the beautiful transformation that happens in the lives of the women who surrender to Jesus here, in addition to being a place to enter or re-enter the working world.
One day before the Market opens, Bralovich takes a precious few minutes from the bustle and industry inside, where a team of people, many of them residents, are stocking shelves, organizing inventory and putting the finishing touches on handmade items that will be for sale. “This is a working farm, but we have a holistic approach. It’s not just teaching, it’s not just work, worship or ministry. It’s a full spectrum, using your hands to give back to this place and be a part of the community here.”
Community indeed. In addition to the seven resident women (there is currently capacity for 12, but a few have graduated the program and moved into surrounding communities), there are six staff and approximately 50 volunteers. On this sunny day, outside the Market a few women are refinishing a rattan side table, one is collecting farm fresh eggs from the chicken coop, and another is tending to the resident micro mini pigs, Elvis and Priscilla. Inside there are residents, staff, volunteers and friends of the farm buzzing through the place, talking, laughing and working together as they prepare for opening day. Items for sale include wood accent furniture, framed signs, jewellery, macramé wall hangings and other textiles, live plants and shrubs (grown in the farm’s greenhouses), canned jams, relishes and honey (from the bee hives at Wagner Hills Men’s Campus), farm fresh eggs (you can bring the kids and collect your own) and unique and beautifully made gift items, such as “Yard Yahtzee”, which is large wooden dice, in a tin bucket with a dry erase score sheet. Perfect for a backyard game on Father’s Day.
The Market is brimming with unique and beautiful items for sale, but it’s the values, purpose and community underpinning this special place that truly give it life. “There’s something to the value of having people from the community come in and teach and mentor. These are Christian craftsman and artisans who are coming in and spending time here,” shares Bralovich. “There’s value in the residents producing something that sustains this place. It gives purpose. We’re meant to work. We’re called to it.” The Market at Wagner Hills Farm is open every Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Come to shop, browse or find out how you can support the healing community of Wagner Hills Women’s Campus. It’s a place that captures the heart in so many ways.