BC Association of Farmers’ Markets: Supporting the Flow of New Farmers in BC

 

 

 

 

 

Project Summary

Title: Linking Farmers to Markets - Supporting the Flow of New Farmer Entrants to BC Farmers’ Markets

With this in mind, the BCAFM is initiating a project to support new farmer entrants in entering BC farmers’ markets, as the older generation of farmers near retirement. Students working on this project will provide a brief overview of existing initiatives to support new farmer entrants in BC, and will develop surveys and tools to 1) support BC farmers’ markets in identifying and tracking farm vendors nearing retirement, and 2) provide strategies to link new farmer entrants to vending opportunities at BC farmers’ markets. Students will have the opportunity to test out their surveys tools (in-progress) at the BC Farmers’ Markets Conference in Victoria, March 2-4, 2018.

  • This project requires the ability to travel on a weekend and attend the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets annual conference, "Growing Together", on March 2-4, 2018 in Victoria. Travel, accommodations, and food will be covered by the course for students.

Organization Information

Name

BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Mission + Vision

The mission of BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) is to support, develop and promote farmers' markets in British Columbia.

BCAFM is committed to developing and strengthening the capacity of farmers' markets in all regions of British Columbia. BCAFM key areas of focus include:

  • Providing education and training to market boards, managers and vendors;
  • Helping promote farmers' markets to the public and key industry stakeholders;
  • Educating the public to choose healthy British Columbia grown agricultural products to ensure a secure food system, to reduce the carbon footprint and to ensure the viability of farming into the future;
  • Initiating and managing research and development activities;
  • Delivering a unified industry voice for all British Columbia farmers' markets.

Primary Contact

  • Contact Person(s): Heather O’Hara and Georgia Stanley
  • Email: heather.ohara@bcfarmersmarket.org, georgia@bcfarmersmarket.org
  • Address: 203-2642 Main Street Vancouver, BC V5T 3E6
  • Phone: 604-734-9797
  • Website: bcfarmersmarket.org
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Monday to Friday 9:00 – 4:30 phone or email

Project Description

According to the most recent Census of Agriculture by Statistics Canada, the number of farms in British Columbia continues to decline, with an 11% decrease in the total number of farms between 2011 and 2016. At the same time, the average age of farm operators in BC has continued to increase, and now stands at 56 years. These numbers point to a disturbing, albeit not new trend, towards fewer, older farmers, and point to vulnerabilities within BC’s food system. We also see this trend at farmers’ markets across British Columbia, of which approximately 95% would like more farmer vendors according to the 2017 BCAFM membership survey. With this in mind, the BCAFM is initiating a project to support new farmer entrants in entering BC farmers’ markets, as the older generation of farmers near retirement. Students working on this project will provide a brief overview of existing initiatives to support new farmer entrants in BC, and will develop surveys and tools to 1) support BC farmers’ markets in identifying and tracking farm vendors nearing retirement, and 2) provide strategies to link new farmer entrants to vending opportunities at BC farmers’ markets. Students will have the opportunity to test out their surveys tools (in-progress) at the BC Farmers’ Markets Conference in Victoria, March 2-4, 2018.

Goals of the Project

The overarching goal of this project is to support the viability of new farmer entrants through the farmers’ market channel. This project will provide some initial tools, strategies and insights into the complex food system wide challenge of supporting the next generation of farmers in being viable, while striving for social, economic and environmental sustainability. At the provincial farmers’ market level, we hope this project provides some practical tools to allow BC farmers’ markets to better support new farmers, who, in turn, will continue to provide fresh, local food to communities across the province.

Skills Preferred + To Be Developed

  • Strong written communication skills, including writing for broad audiences
  • Comfortable conducting surveys and interacting with various stakeholders in person and over the phone
  • Ability to design user-friendly tools for various stakeholder groups
  • Familiarity with farm-direct marketing, agriculture and related organizations in British Columbia

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

  • Details will be confirmed in the first meeting. Schedules can be fairly flexible between Monday to Friday, 9am – 4:30pm.
  • Meetings will take place at the BCAFM office, which is located close to Main St and Broadway, and is easily accessible by public transit. The building is wheelchair accessible, with an elevator and ramp. Depending on what works best in terms of schedule, students may be able to work away from the BCAFM office.

Project/Partner Orientation

  • Meetings will take place at the BCAFM office, which is located close to Main St and Broadway, and is easily accessible by public transit. The building is wheelchair accessible, with an elevator and ramp. Depending on what works best in terms of schedule, students may be able to work away from the BCAFM office.
  • Project leaders will provide an in person orientation to students at the BCAFM office, including some reading materials to provide additional information about the farmers’ market sector in British Columbia in general, and information about how and why farmers use farmers’ markets.
  • The students would have the opportunity to attend the 2018 BC Farmers’ Markets Conference, March 2-4, 2018 in Victoria. This will provide and opportunity to test out project deliverables in progress as well as connect with the broader farmers’ market community on Vancouver Island, and across BC.

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • We hope students will learn about the farmers’ markets sector in British Columbia, including challenges and opportunities for the sector as a whole.
  • We think students will come to appreciate some of the challenges surrounding economic viability and sustainability of farming within the current conventional food system/chain.
  • Students will develop an on-the-ground sense of how and why BC farmers use farmers’ markets as a marketing channel for their farm business, as well as some barriers to participation.

Organizational Outcomes

  • A simple survey that BCAFM and member farmers’ markets can use to identify farmers who are nearing retirement and or not continuing to operate their farm business.
  • A simple tool BCAFM and member farmers’ markets can use to track farmers wanting to leave the business, documenting key farm attributes, as well as which farmers’ markets and communities will be impacted.
  • Research and recommend potential strategies for linking farm vendor openings at BC farmers’ markets with new entrant farmers. Include lessons learned regarding barriers new farmer entrants are facing in accessing BC farmers’ markets.
source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/W2018/BCAFM