Trent University graduate Melissa Johnston asks: How are Farmer’s Markets managed across Ontario?

A farmers’ market usually consists of booths, tables, and stands where farmers can sell their products directly to consumers.

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Usually, the market reflects local culture and sometimes can have environmental and social benefits.

Compared to a grocery store, farmers’ market products often need:

  • Less transportation
  • Less handling
  • Less refrigeration
  • Less time in storage

Farmers’ markets can also bring communities together – where both urban and rural populations meet! People can also enjoy fresher and seasonal foods.

Farmers’ market bring a list of benefits – but have you ever considered how Farmer’s Markets are managed across Ontario?

Melissa Johnston, a graduate from the Trent University Masters of Arts in Sustainability Studies program asked this question.

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Melissa completed an important community-based project that examined the governance and management strategies used at farmers’ market across Ontario.

Melissa distributed questionnaires to all members of Farmers’ Markets Ontario  a provincial organization that offers practical and promotional support to farmers’ market across the province.

She received 41 completed questionnaires and then selected 17 individuals to interview.

These two methods allowed her to gather basic operational details about Ontario Farmer’s Markets. She was able to gather a detailed narrative about the challenges and success stories experienced by each of the 17 interview participants.

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Melissa’s research provided a deep understanding about the enormous range of operational approaches and strategies used to manage and govern a farmers’ market.

Her research revealed “best practices” to help inform farmers’ market across the province on how to become better managed.

Highlights from her research included: 

  • Vendors should have a say in the management structure through a democratic process
  • An inclusive culture at the farmers’ market should be developed
  • Procedures for managing farmers’ markets should be well documented
  • A definition of “local food” should be developed
  • Farmer’s Market customers should be included in conversations about management 

Melissa tells us that “local food and farmers’ markets are central to food system sustainability and they need our attention and support.  The public should get to know their market vendors, learn about the source of their food, and support efforts to improve our food system.

Next time you go to the farmers’ market, please consider the “behind-the-scene” operations and get involved in the conversation!

Thank you Melissa for your research on farmers’ market in Ontario!

trentu

 

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