The backbone of local food in B.C.
July 8, 2013 By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery
July 8, 2013, Vancouver — Farmers’ markets contribute significantly to local economies, injecting about $170 million annually, according to a recent social and economic benefits study by the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) and Dr. David Connell of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).
“Although people know that farmers’ markets are a great place to buy fresh, local food,” said Jon Bell, president of the BCAFM, “The results of this study demonstrate the incredible growth of markets since 2006 when we supported a similar study.”
Farmers’ markets in B.C. have continued to grow, producing 147 per cent more sales in 2012 than 2006.
“This project builds upon the results of a similar study we did in 2006,” said Connell. “The results are significant for many reasons. They highlight the improving viability of local food systems, increasing demand for new farmers, and pressing need to protect the agricultural land base.”
More people are shopping at markets: there’s been a 62 per cent increase in the number of markets. Shoppers are also spending more money.
Over 9,800 people participated in the study at 33 farmers’ markets across British Columbia. Over half of the market visitors shop at the market at least two to three times a month.
With a loyal customer base, farmers and vendors are finding the stability they need with this marketing channel. Additionally, 20 per cent of market shoppers are first time visitors showing that markets are reaching a new customer base.
“Farmers’ markets continue to serve as the face of agriculture in B.C.,” said Elizabeth Quinn, executive director of the BCAFM. “There has been significant growth in the number and vitality of farmers’ markets in B.C. and it is important to understand not only what they contribute but also how much they contribute to local neighbourhoods, cities and towns.”
The five most important factors that farmers’ market shoppers consider when buying food include nutritional content, grown/produced in B.C. or locally, in season, and animal welfare.
The project was carried out by the BCAFM in collaboration with Dr. David Connell, a professor in the School of Environmental Planning at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Financial assistance was provided by participating farmers’ markets, Vancity Community Foundation, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada programming delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C.
Click here for a full copy of the Provincial Report on the Economic and Social Benefits Assessment of B.C. Farmers’ Markets.
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