Farmers markets could be playing a bigger role beyond a place for communities to get locally-sourced produce and handmade goods.
Researchers are gathering information on the economic impact of farmers markets across B.C., with Grand Forks’ being among them. The July 18 market hosted an information gathering session for the B.C. Farmers’ Markets 2023 Farmers’ Market Economic Impact Study. It included a booth were people could learn more about the study, as well as take surveys in the form of whiteboards with questions people could leave dots next to answers.
This is part of a years-long research project between the B.C. Farmers’ Markets and Dr. David Connell at the University of Northern British Columbia, explained Cait Wills, research associate with the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets. She was overseeing the booth and said even as early as 9:30 a.m. a large number of people stopped by to participate.
This latest iteration is a follow-up to a longitudinal study in 2012 and the original study in 2006. This study is gathering information from 68 farmers markets across the province on the same day. There were 34 markets participating.
“The feedback we are getting is interesting and telling,” she said. “We are getting information on the impact and experience of the market from customers, as well as more in-depth insight into shoppers’ habits to gauge the economic impact of farmers’ markets in the province.”
There were five questions in total: What is the primary reason you came to the farmers’ market today? When did you start shopping at this farmers’ market? If you plan to do additional shopping or eating in this area of town today, how much do you plan to spend? How much have you spent, or plan to spend, at the farmers’ market today (including coupons and vouchers)? How often do you come to the farmers’ market?
One thing that was clear very early is many shoppers have been coming to the market for years, she said. On average, they were spending between $21 to $40 per trip, and planned on doing additional shopping in the area, with $20 to $60 being the average amount.
The question of how much a person was planning on spending in the surrounding area is at the request of the market itself, Wills said, to demonstrate the secondary impact a market has on local businesses in the area.
Chloe Brogan, project manager for the 2023 Farmers’ Market Economic Impact Study, explained B.C. Farmers’ markets are spearheading it, with some funding coming from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Over the last 10 years, there have been major changes, including a pandemic, subsequent inflation and supply chain issues.
However, they are still looking at the economic impact on the market and spinoffs into the community.
“We’ll have the preliminary results, we will have figures for the annual economic benefits from markets, which we’ll assume has about a 1.5 multiplier of the direct sales,” she said. “We will have a figure for the economic benefits of spending at nearby businesses.”
Those figures are being correlated and will be released to markets through their joint newsletter, likely in the next two weeks, Brogen said.