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Farmers wanted “for a relationship with food!”

March 4, 2009  By Farmers' Markets Ontario


March 4, 2009, St. Catharines, Ont. – Farmers wanted! That’s the key
message from a recently released study commissioned by Farmers’ Markets
Ontario (FMO) examining the opportunities and challenges for farmers’
markets in Ontario.

March 4, 2009, St. Catharines, Ont. – Farmers wanted! That’s the key message from a recently released study commissioned by Farmers’ Markets Ontario (FMO) examining the opportunities and challenges for farmers’ markets in Ontario.
 
“Market shoppers don’t just want to buy fruits and vegetables, they also want to meet the farmer who grew them,” says Robert Chorney, executive director of FMO. “It’s part of the whole community shopping experience. Today’s consumers want to know where their food came from and interact with the person who produced it.”
 
This unique sensitivity to supporting local farmers was expressed in nearly all the shoppers surveyed. They also felt very strongly towards the integrity of local producers to provide healthier and fresher fruits, vegetables and other food items.
 
Ontario’s 154 farmers’ markets have also proven to be rewarding for vendors. The study showed that almost half of vendors generate 50 per cent or more of their farm income from market sales. Furthermore, half of vendors reported creating up to five jobs as a result of market participation.
 
“Our market vendors are reaping the benefits of retailing their products,” says Chorney. “Cutting out the middleman lets the producers enjoy retail prices of up to eight times more money than they would get wholesale. Many farmers are realizing that selling at a farmers’ market is also a great way to expand into other direct marketing opportunities.”
 
Also high on the returns list for vendors is the personal satisfaction of meeting their customers as people see, smell, touch and taste the good things they grow.
 
“The one on one time with customers in a friendly community atmosphere is a great opportunity for producers to get feedback and ideas for new and value added products,” says Chorney. “It’s a chance for producers to educate people about farming, and a chance for consumers to say thank you to farmers for all their hard work.”
 
The win-win between shoppers and producers can add another ‘win’ with the economy. The study showed Ontario farmers’ markets direct sales in 2008 as an estimated $641 million with an economic impact of up to $1.9 billion annually. All this stems from approximately 15 million shopper-visits averaging $27.67 per visit.
 
“The popularity of farmers’ markets is growing every year,” says Chorney. “There are tremendous opportunities out there for producers who want to take the extra step of marketing their goods, then reaping the rewards.”
 
However, the shortage is not in opportunities, but rather in finding producers to become vendors at these growing farmers’ markets. As the population of farmers continues to decline, so does the number of potential farmers’ market vendors.
 
In an effort to help markets across the province recruit more producers, FMO works closely with established and developing markets to create more aggressive advertising and promotion strategies; improve access to labour; and support efforts to make the physical market presence an attractive and more accessible venue for shoppers.
 
To find out more about becoming a farmers’ market vendor, call Bernie Solymár, FMO recruitment coordinator, at 1-866-498-1784 or visit www.farmersmarketsontario.com.
 


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