Local farmers market is top choice for vendors

Vendors at the Burnaby Farmers Market choose Burnaby as their first-choice market, according to new data out of UBC.

Last year, as part of a research project, four students from the university’s faculty of land and food systems interviewed a handful of farmers who regularly sell at the 4949 Canada Way site. The group also gathered information from past and present farmers in the market’s records.

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The consensus was that farmers preferred Burnaby over the bigger markets in Vancouver, like Trout Lake and Kitsilano.

Simply put – Burnaby wasn’t just a Plan B market for vendors who couldn’t get in elsewhere.

“There’s often this notion that the vendors want to be in the big city markets because they think they’re going to make more money,” said researcher Katie Bartel, who also sits on the board of directors for the New West Farmers Market. “They actually said they made more money in Burnaby because it was a grocery-style market rather than this niche thing to go to and pick up one thing. (Shoppers) went there to get their week’s supply of produce.”

Many vendors chose Burnaby because of its relaxed environment and vendor-friendly management, added Bartel.

The biggest draw for sellers? Parking.

The Burnaby Farmers Market is held every Saturday from May to October, in the parking lot right in front of city hall. Vendors usually set up right beside their vehicle.

“The majority of the city markets and even nearby community markets don’t have available parking for the vendors, whereas Burnaby does. That’s a huge thing because they’re not having to trek in huge loads of produce,” said Bartel.

The group’s findings will be distributed to more than 145 markets through the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets. It’ll help inform others how to best attract and retain more vendors for 2018, she noted.

Speaking as a board member of the New West Farmers Market, Bartel said it all comes down to promoting the unique and “great things” each market has to offer.

“You don’t necessarily have to do more; you just have to know how to promote yourself. I think that’s a lesson that will be great for smaller markets to learn from.”

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