Canada's First Certified Farmers' Market

Greenbelt Farmers and Toronto Residents to Benefit from the First Certified Farmers’ Market in Canada

Greater Toronto, November 22, 2006  – Over one hundred and fifty Greenbelt and GTA farmers are creating Canada’s first certified farmers’ market. Currently, many farmers’ markets include non-farmers who resell produce bought at food terminals. The new certified farmers’ market will be dedicated to real farmers selling locally-grown products and exclude non-farmers reselling imports or produce bought from the Ontario Food Terminal. Toronto is the preferred location to showcase this model farmers’ market.

 “Farmers’ markets should benefit the farmer by selling the freshest food in return for taking home a greater share of the dollar for what they grow. Instead, there are resellers at many Ontario farmers’ markets with some simply mimicking large grocery retailers,” says Robert Chorney, Executive Director of Farmers’ Markets Ontario.“This will be the first market in Canada that gives consumers a guarantee that the vendors are farmers and the food is fresh.”

Certifying markets will ensure that it is farmers that benefit financially. By selling direct to consumers, farmers keep approximately 50% of the food dollar that usually goes to “middlemen” who process or distribute goods. A recent study showed that farmers can increase their financial returns by 200% by selling at a market, as compared to a wholesaler or distributor. A dollar spent buying local foods also generates more revenue for the local economy than the same amount spent on imports.

“We want to celebrate the grand opening of Ontario’s first certified market at the start of the 2007 season,” says Shelley Petrie, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “With the Greenbelt protecting farmland near the largest concentration of residents in the country, this is an exciting project to put the “farmer” back in farmers’ markets.”

Certification will include, but not be limited to, each farmer undergoing a third-party certification inspection, show proof of a farm business registration number, and post a sign at each market stall to identify the location of their farm and what they grow. Farmers’ Markets Ontario has scouted Toronto for locations to launch a certified market and will present three options to farmers at the meeting this Wednesday evening – Ramsden Park across from the Rosedale Subway Station in downtown Toronto, the Ontario Science Centre, and Woodbine Shopping Centre in Etobicoke. Farmers will discuss the merits of each location including parking for farmers, transit access for consumers, residential density, and the size of the space.

“There is a growing sense among farmers that present-day Farmers’ Markets are a distortion of their origins,” says Laura Alderson, Manager of Weston Farmers’ Market in Toronto. “Many markets utilize public space, such as civic squares, and therefore should benefit the public interest. They can do this by delivering fresh, nutritious foods, building a sense of community between rural and urban neighbours, and investing in the local economy.”

The meeting is being held Wednesday, November 22, 2006 at the Courtyard by Marriot Hotel, Highway 410 and Steeles Avenue in Brampton. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. and includes a dinner serving Greenbelt-grown foods. Public consultations will be conducted to determine the best location.

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For More Information Contact:

Robert Chorney, Farmers’ Markets Ontario, 613-475-4769
Laura Weston, Manager, Weston Farmers’ Market, 416-249-0691

Shelley Petrie, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, 416-960-0001 ext. 304 or 416-254-4909 (cell)

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