Group foresees growth for farmers’ markets

Get­ting fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables and baked goods are an important reason for shopping at one of Ontario’s 154 farmers’ markets.

A recent study indicates the number one reason shop­pers patronize their local farmers’ market is due to strong belief in the integrity of shopping in their community and their de­sire to meet the producers of the food they eat.

Farmers’ Markets Ontario (FMO) recently completed the fourth in a series of studies over the last decade to calculate the economic impact of Ontario farmers’ markets.

Robert Chor­ney, the FMO ex­ecutive direc­tor. "The de­mand is growing rap­idly and we need more pro­ducers to fill that demand."

The study showed market shoppers expressed a strong sense of community pride in supporting local producers and that meeting the actual produc­er was part of their community shopping experience. Shoppers felt strongly (93%) about the importance of being able to buy directly from a farmer, with 67 per cent calling it extremely important.

Almost half of ven­dors report that 50 per cent or more of their total farm income is generated through farmers’ market sales.

Ontario farmers’ markets are also an important contributor to the Ontario economy with direct sales in 2008 estimated at $641-million, and a province-wide economic im­pact of up to $1.9-billion annually. In Ontario, there are more than 15-million shopper-visits with $27.67 average spending.