Economic and Social Benefits of Farmers Markets


OVERVIEW
The demand for locally produced fresh, nutritious food by local consumers has grown rapidly over the past ten years.  So too has the number of farmers markets.  As the most visible and accessible component of our local food systems, farmers markets have strengthened their role as providing unique places for local producers and local consumers to connect.  Although this role of farmers markets within local food systems is well recognised, it is important to know not only what markets contribute to local areas but also to know how much they contribute.  A national study of farmers markets was completed in 2009 and provincial studies of markets in British Columbia were completed in 2006 and 2012.

National study
In 2009, I worked with Experience Renewal Solutions to complete a national study of the economic benefits of farmers markets.  The report provides a baseline study that serves as a benchmark for measurement of the contributions of farmers markets across Canada and an assessment of trends and opportunities for growth.
British Columbia
The Economic and Social Benefits of Farmers Markets in BC project supports the economic diversification of British Columbia’s small-scale agriculture industry by focussing on the development of farmers markets in communities across the province. Our purpose is to measure the social and economic benefits of farmers markets across British Columbia in order to quantify the significant contributions of farmers markets and to increase their visibility both locally and provincially.  Measuring impacts will fill a critical gap in farmers markets’ business plans by providing a benchmark that is currently lacking for direct farm marketing but is available for other types of agriculture in the province.
The provincial study has been completed twice.  The study was completed in 2006 and again in 2012.  This provided us with an incredible opportunity to evaluate changes among farmers markets over the six-year period.  We found:
  • There were significantly more market days offered (more markets and more markets selling on more days)
  • More shoppers attended farmers markets
  • individual shoppers spent more, on average.
In 2012 we completed assessments for 33 individual markets.  A final report is available for each market and for the province.  For a copy of the final reports please contact Dr. David Connell.
Funding for this project is provided by the Investment Agriculture Foundation,  the University of Northern British Columbia, and individual farmers markets.  In-kind support is provided by BC Association of Farmers Markets, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and UNBC.
FUNDING
This project is a collaborative effort between Dr. David J Connell and the BC Association of Farmers' Markets.  Funding for this project is provided by the Investment Agriculture Foundation and its funding partners the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, the University of Northern British Columbia, and individual farmers markets.  In-kind support is provided by BC Association of Farmers Markets.


For more information contact
David J. Connell, PhD
250-960-5835
david.connell@unbc.ca