Does a healthy community make for a great farmer's market, or does a great farmer's market make for a healthy community?
This was one of the questions examined during the Nourish and Flourish Conference held in Kelowna March 4th through 6th.
The BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) held their annual conference, inviting over 100 farmer’s market organizers, farmers, food producers, and community leaders to explore how healthy farmers markets can help to make healthy communities.
Discussion around the role farmer’s markets play in forming a healthy and strong community was at the forefront of an afternoon session. Three representatives from different farmer market communities spoke on innovations and initiatives happening at markets around the world, and what their impact on communities is.
Vade Donaldson, a member of the Washington State Farmers Market Association said not only do farmer’s markets offer health benefits physically, they are also shown to build a healthy community socially. Donaldson said community farmer’s markets give people will often spend less time on their phone at farmer’s markets, embracing the social components that markets offer.
In B.C., farmer’s markets contribute significantly to the local economy. According to a 2012 Economic Benefits study by the BCAFM, nearly $170 million annually is injected into the local economy.
“Many of our 125 member farmers’ markets are extending their reach beyond the market, to serve as community hubs where issues of healthy eating, food supply, and sustainability can be tackled,” said BCAFM Executive Director, Elizabeth Quinn.
“Farmers’ markets, big and small, support healthy local economies, by bolstering small business development and keeping dollars within the community. In the past year, farmers’ markets sales have increased by 11 per cent in B.C.”
In the Okanagan, the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafter’s Market runs all year round, offering the public both indoor and outdoor venues. During the winter months, the market operates out of the Parkinson Recreation Centre.
Beginning in April, the Kelowna Farmers’ Market ventures outside, set up on the corner of Springfield Road and Dilworth Drive. The market offers over 165 vendors that offer locally produced fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, artisan baking, and handcrafted pottery, jewellery, woodwork, and soaps.