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BC Farmer's MarketFarmer's markets provide a convenient weekly source of fresh food.
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Children love farmer's markets
A little sampling for 3 young boys
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BC Farmer's Market
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Shopping for seasonal fresh produce
Shopping for seasonal fresh produce at a local farmer's market
Farmers markets are community hubs where people meet, local food is celebrated, and where innovative food businesses are born. When markets thrive, the business community around them thrives too.
A new publication from the BCAFM, Planning for Successful Farmers’ Markets in Towns and Cities: A Best Practices Guide for Municipalities, explains how municipalities can plan for successful, vibrant farmers markets in their community.
There are now more than 125 farmers markets in BC with 3,000 vendors, of which 1,000 are farmers. Their local economic benefits for municipalities are substantial. According to the Economic Benefits Study led by Dr. Dave Connell of University of Northern BC and funded by Investment Agriculture Foundation, Canada, and Vancity, shoppers in 2012 spent $114 million at farmers markets and an additional $59 million at neighbouring businesses. Sales generated at BC’s farmers’ markets increased an incredible 147% from 2006 to 2012. Farmers markets provide the primary source of revenue for over half of farmer vendors in BC.
Markets offer a place for innovative start-ups to test new food products. Holy Crap launched their artisanal cereal company at the Sechelt farmers’ market and now sells to over 600 retailers across North America and internationally.
“Farmers’ markets are obviously good for farmers, but they are also good for our communities. I know that they just bring life and help re-energize our communities”. Mark Dalton, MLA Coquitlam Burke-Mountain
“Developers are starting farmers’ markets like the River District farmers’ markets started by Parklane Homes in south Vancouver” said Elizabeth Quinn, Executive Director of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM). “Developers know what’s good for business.”
The social and environmental benefits of farmers markets for municipalities are equally significant. In Naramata their major grocery store is 15 km away, and so the farmers market provides a convenient weekly source of fresh food. In BC 77% of the produce at markets is sustainably grown and because they are local the transportation distances far shorter than the average 5,364 km that imported food travel to our grocery stores.
Market Success with Municipalities
While farmers’ markets provide a wide range of benefits and opportunities, not all municipalities have policies and systems in place to support their success.
Planning for Successful Farmers Markets In Towns and Cities: A Best Practices Guide for Municipalities elaborates on the need for collaboration between local government staff and market organizers to create supportive and aligned policies.
A comprehensive coordinated plan for farmers markets that involves all necessary departments including bylaws, zoning, parks, land use and permits can smooth the process not only for the market organizers but also for staff in those departments. The City of Langford has embedded support for farmers’ markets in their Official Community Plan (OCP), and has found that the Langford market has been a positive addition to the downtown centre and surrounding businesses.
“For a farmers’ market to succeed you first need the support of your council and then the support of the staff”. Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering at the city of Langford
With encouragement from the Vancouver Farmers Markets a two-year interim policy was put in place in 2010 by the City to eliminate restrictions and streamline the approval process for new and returning farmers’ markets. In February of this year Vancouver City Council approved the Vancouver Food Strategy, which supports the doubling of farmers markets to 22 by 2020.
The guide includes a Farmers’ Market Score Card to measure how market-ready a municipality is. To support farmers markets a number of specific areas have been identified.
Defining farmers’ markets as a venue where products are sold directly by the producers is essential for municipalities to differentiate farmers’ markets from other types of markets.
“Simply acknowledging farmers’ markets in a Downtown revitalization strategy or sustainability strategy can strengthen municipal support for farmers’ markets” said Elizabeth Quinn, Executive Director of the BC Association of Farmers’ Market.
Securing an appropriate long-term location provides the needed stability for markets so vendors can rely on the venue year after year. Parking lots, temporary street closures, vacant lots, can all become market locations, if zoning allows. The City of Vancouver recently adjusted their zoning bylaws to be more market-friendly so all zones, with only one exception, are available for market sites.
Infrastructure needs for a successful farmers’ market include power, onsite storage, water, seating and washrooms. Power is needed frozen meats and refrigerated eggs. Washrooms add to the comfort of patrons and vendors alike. The City of Kamloops has provided storage for barricades, tables, and other market materials at one of their pump stations close to the market site.
Municipalities can play an essential role in securing all the benefits of a farmers’ market provides for their community. Working collaboratively with market organizers will help ensure the success of their farmers’ markets for years to come.
Planning for Successful Farmers Markets In Towns and Cities: A Best Practices Guide for Municipalities is available by emailing the BCAFM at
firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 604-734-9797