Tis’ that time of year for fresh produce, fantastic weather, the desire to (generally) eat lighter, being more active outdoors and meeting up with friends. All great reasons to enjoy your local Farmers market. We have an abundance of them here in the Vancouver, BC area and it’s definitely growing. This article in the Vancouver Sun talks about the growing trend for Farmers markets as more and more people grow concerned about where their food comes from, what it’s made of, the economy and environment, and their health. There’s some great points in this article so I’ve copied it here for you:
Farmers markets flourishing across B.C. as more buyers go local
Survey of over 9,800 people at 33 markets found over half of the visitors shop at a farmers’ market at least two to three times a month
It’s no surprise to Carolyn Morris that farmers’ markets across British Columbia are flourishing like never before.
The manager of the highly popular Squamish Farmers Market — responding to a new report showing the economic benefits of farmers markets rising sharply across the province — sees hundreds of locals along with a growing numbers of tourists and other visitors making the stop in downtown Squamish every Saturday.
She also sees them spending more money.
“I started managing this market six years ago and it was very small and simple, maybe 12 vendors,” said Morris of her market, that runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday in downtown Squamish through the summer and is followed up by an indoor winter market on Sundays.
“Now we’re full, with 62 vendors,” added Morris, whose market includes food trucks and entertainment by musical groups such as the Overcomers, which performed Saturday.
“And we have a waiting list,” said Morris. “There’s a lot more quality and a lot more local support for independent business ventures.”
According to the new social and economic benefits study, the estimated total economic benefits of all farmers’ markets in B.C. in 2012 was greater than $170 million, a 147-per-cent increase from the results of a similar study completed in 2006, and the total direct sales grew from $46 million to $113 million over the same period.
The study concluded that the five most important factors market shoppers consider are nutritional content, whether it’s grown or produced in B.C., in season, grown or produced locally, and animal welfare issues.
The study, by the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) and David Connell, a professor in the School of Environmental Planning at the University of Northern British Columbia, also found that those surveyed shop more often at farmers’ markets than other food retail outlets.
Connell noted that the findings are significant for many reasons, including highlighting the improved viability of local food systems, increased demand for new farmers, and pressing need to protect the agricultural land base.
The study concluded that there’s also been a 62-per-cent increase in the number of markets and — like the Squamish market, which injects more than $1.8 million annually into the local economy and draws nearly 60,000 visitors annually — shoppers are spending more money, with average customer spending growing 23 per cent to $28.81 per day.
The B.C. survey – with over 9,800 people participating at 33 markets – found over half of the visitors shop at a farmers’ market at least two to three times a month.
And over 20 per cent were first-time visitors.
“That’s huge,” said BCAFM executive-director Elizabeth Quinn. “We had no idea of that. Also, farmers’ markets are becoming more convenient, with more opening in the evening or during the week.”
Quinn noted that customers are far more interested in healthy choices than a few years ago. “They know in-season fresh food is healthy. And they also want to support their local community more.”
Besides that, she added: “Traditionally, a farmers’ markets is a place to see people and meet their friends. And there’s music. Juno award winner Kenny Wayne played blues at Ladner Village Market on June 9.”
However, Quinn said the sharp growth in the number of markets could make it difficult for smaller markets losing vendors going elsewhere. “So far that hasn’t happened. But that’s my fear.”
Connell said there are many British Columbians are turning to farmers’ markets because they’re losing trust in conventional food systems and they like eating locally. “And farmers’ markets are the most visible and accessible avenue to accessing local food.”
He said the trend is very good for local farmers, especially smaller-scale farmers.
“Some travel quite a distance, with farmers from the interior travelling to Vancouver. Different family members go to different markets on different days.”
Connell noted the trend bodes well for B.C.’s farmland. “As demand for local food increases, it places more importance on the protection of the agricultural land base.”