Farmers market pumps $980,000 through Abbotsford economy

Abbotsford Farm and Country Market is a significant economic player, injecting nearly $980,000 annually into the local economy

Abbotsford Farm and Country Market is a significant economic player, injecting nearly $980,000 annually into the local economy, according to a recent study.

“Although people know the market is a great place to buy fresh, local food,” said Bruce Fatkin, the farmers’ market manager. “The results of this study help us communicate to others how valuable the farmers’ market is to our community.”

About 32,500 people visit the farmers’ market annually and on the day of the study, July 14, about 1,230 people visited the market.  About 330 of these visitors participated in the survey.  Over half of shoppers visit the market either ‘regularly’ (almost weekly) or ‘frequently’ (2-3 times per month).

The market is participating in a province-wide study of the economic and community benefits of farmers markets.

“Farmers’ markets continue to serve as the face of farming in BC,” said Elizabeth Quinn, executive director of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets.  “There has been significant growth in the number and vitality of farmers’ markets in BC and it is important to understand not only what they contribute but also how much they contribute to local neighbourhoods, cities, and towns.”

Dr. David Connell, a professor from the University of Northern BC who is leading the project, added, “This project builds upon the results of a similar study we did in 2006.  At the end of this project we will be able to compare our results to see how much has changed over the past six years.”

The results of this year’s assessment confirm that the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market has grown significantly since 2006.

“This is a reflection of our customers’ increased interest in supporting local small business, especially farmers, eating local, building relationships with the people who produce their food, and in helping to lessen the environmental impacts of transporting food thousands of kilometers from field to our homes,” said Fatkin. “This study also confirms that we have been adding significantly to our loyal customer base with fairly similar numbers of respondents who have shopped the market for up to nine years (since we first opened) and newer friends who have discovered us in the last 18 to 24 months”.

The market is held in the heart of downtown Abbotsford, on Montrose Avenue north of George Ferguson Way. Each Saturday morning the market springs to life as vendors assemble their stands to showcase produce, processed foods, arts and crafts. Designed not only as a shopping place but also as a social community venue, the market features entertainment, raffles and contests for both vendors and shoppers.

The project is carried out by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets in collaboration with Dr. David Connell, a professor in the School of Environmental Planning at the University of Northern British Columbia.  Financial assistance was provided by participating farmers’ markets, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, and Vancity Community Foundation.