Market Bucks: A Short Briefer

Friends of the Greenbelt Market Bucks
One of our own market bucks! Buk buk buk buk...

I always anticipate the arrival of spring since I cannot wait for farmers’ markets to open. I love exploring what farmers’ markets have to offer and then cooking with fresh, local ingredients. Farmers’ markets provide an opportunity to enjoy the bounty of the region and to get to know the people who grow our food. They are also a way to support the local economy and to reduce the carbon footprint of our food by reducing the distance it has to travel. And the best news is that more and more farmers’ markets are cropping up, which makes it easier for us to buy local food even closer to home. 

One of the interesting by-products of farmers’ markets has been the creation of market bucks. Market bucks are a form of currency that can be used at any participating farmers’ market. They’re like store vouchers, only more fresh and delicious. From what I can see, they’ve been used in Canada and the United States. Their appearance and use ranges from location to location.

A variety of market buck examples from across continent. Multiple sources.

Take for example Midtown Farmers’ Market in Minneapolis: some of the market bucks were added to enable welfare recipients to have better access to local food. In some areas the welfare recipients would be given an additional $5 to spend at the farmers’ market, while in other areas, for each dollar that was changed, the participants received a match in market bucks (for up to $18).

West End Food Coop's Nickels
West End Food Coop, in Toronto, offers wooden nickels. Photo courtesy of West End Food Coop.

In Canada, market bucks are also used as a way to help food bank clients. In Toronto, the West End Food Coop farmers’ market invites people who buy market bucks to also donate market bucks to marginalized community members who have less access to fresh food. Market bucks are sometimes given as a way to help customers who do not usually bring cash to markets, or as a way to gain new customers and to promote local food.

In 2013, the Greenbelt Foundation provided funding to Foodshare to provide market bucks to markets in the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network. The purpose of this project was to attract new customers to farmers’ markets. This project was such a success, that on Monday, June 2, 2014, a new market bucks program will begin! With the support of $25,000 from TD Bank Group, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is helping to connect TD customers with their neighbourhood farmers’ market by giving away free Market Bucks to purchase fresh, local food for their family.


This week is Local Food Week, and each day we will be featuring events, farmers’ markets, and Ontario-grown vegetables and fruits to inspire you to get out and celebrate! Get fresh, get local, and get going! 


-- Communications Assistant


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