As the season winds down and we start to reflect on our successes and areas for improvement, I’m happy to say, I’m proud of how far we have come over the last year and the progress we’ve achieved thus far.
In mid October, the BCAFM presented to the Provincial Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to provide input on next year’s provincial budget. The BCAFM offered four recommendations specific to farmers' markets:
· core support to expand marketing initiatives
· renewed funding for the Buy Local program
· grant programs for farmers’ markets in Northern BC
· continued funding to expand the FMNCP program
In just a few weeks we will launch the third round of the Strengthening Farmers’ Markets program, a series of learning opportunities including networking events, workshops and webinars, tailored specifically for farmers’ markets.
2014 was our biggest season so far with the largest number of markets, partners and participants enrolled in the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program. As well, liquor sales also began, bringing in a whole new group of shoppers (and complexities) to our markets. And, we ran two successful campaigns (Buy Local and Farmers Appreciation Week), creating awareness and raising the profile of farmers’ markets across BC.
Along the way we’ve also experienced a few bumps and we are working to improve situations to the best of our ability. Recently, the BCAFM board issued clear guidelines for markets participating in the Coupon Program. BCAFM member markets must commit to ensuring:
· Coupons may only be accepted by vendors who are local farmers
· Prohibit the sale of farm products by third party distributors
Liquor sales are also unchartered territory for BC markets. We will continue to liaise with our market members and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to ensure that policies are implemented in a positive manner. Thirty-eight of the forty-five farmers’ markets selling liquor in BC are BCAFM members.
As farmers’ markets continue to grow across BC, it is critical that we offer an authentic and a transparent experience for customers, farmers and funders. You can view the positions and policies that the BCAFM Board has ratified in the ‘About Us’ section of our website.
The BCAFM would not exist without the hard work and dedication of our member markets and our staff. Thank you for all your efforts in making this past season such a success. If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch.