Farmers' Markets Ontario - Come for the freshness... Stay for the fun Farmers' Markets Ontario

The History of Farmers' Markets Ontario®

It would be nice to be able to say "we planned it this way". It would be nice to be able to say "these were our objectives from the beginning, and we have made a lot of progress in reaching them". It would be nice . . . but it wouldn't be true. Farmers' Markets Ontario® has grown, like a young tree in a thicket, twisting its way toward living-space and sunlight, in unforseen directions.
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16-Mar-15. 25th Annual Networking Symposium.

February 18, & 29, 2015 – 25th Annual Networking Symposium & AGM at Niagara Falls, ON in conjunction with Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention & Trade Show.  New records set for the Convention…about 100 farmers’ markets people participated.


16-Mar-15. ONroute farmers' market.

Summer 2014 we opened three (3) ONroute Farmers’ Markets…2 at Trenton (North & South 401) and Cambridge (North 401).  Two distinctly different operating models…farmers delivered their products to the markets at Trenton and FMO students handled sales.  One farmer (Thames River Melons) was the anchor farmer at Cambridge and his staff sold his products along with tender fruit supplied by other farmers.


08-Apr-14. Annual Networking Symposium 2014.

24th Annual Networking Symposium/AGM held in concert with the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention & Trade Show at Niagara Falls, ON.  Record-setting numbers both for FMO & Conference sessions.  Dan Needles, Author & Playright was a Guest Speaker.

Second day of Symposium featured a market managers’ conference with 60 attending.


08-Apr-14. Two ONroute Farmers' Markets Opened in 2013.

Summer 2013 also saw the opening of two ONroute Farmers’ Markets…part of a three year Pilot Project funded by OMAF.  Results were excellent at one location (Trenton westbound) and weak at King City location, due to a poor site location.


22-Feb-12. 22nd Annual Networking Symposium & AGM.

February 22 & 23, 2012 – 22nd Annual Networking Symposium and AGM held in concert with the 10th Annual Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention & Trade Show at Niagara Falls (a new location).  The change of location was greeted very positively…OFVC attendance jumped by 30%.  FMO’s Symposium had a slight increase from previous years.

The “Show & Tell presentations” from three farmers’ markets seemed popular and this should likely be a topic at every Networking Symposium.


07-Feb-12. Canadian Food Summit.

February 7 & 8, 2012 – The Conference Board of Canada organized a Canadian Food Summit at Toronto, ON attended by upwards of 800 people.  FMO Director, Tom Neufeld & FMO Executive Director, Robert Chorney attended.  The opening speaker was Galen Weston, Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited.  Toward the end of his speech he remarked that “farmers’ markets are going to kill people someday”.  Robert Chorney objected strenuously on behalf of FMO and Farmers’ Markets Canada.

The response to Mr. Weston’s remarks was swift and intensive from the media, shoppers and others.  In the following few days, forty (40) million impressions were reported ranging from radio, television, newspaper, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, telephone calls, etc.  Ninety-nine, point nine percent (99.9%) of comments were strongly in favour of farmers’ markets and less than a dozen supported Galen Weston!  In retrospect, Mr. Weston did us a favour!


22-Feb-11. 21st Annual Networking Symposium & AGM.

February 22, 23 & 24, 2011 – A special one-day FMO Board of Directors meeting, facilitated by consultants James Farrar and Tracy Lamb, St. Catharines, ON to discuss long-term (2012 to 2016) planning.  This was followed by our 21st Annual Networking Symposium & AGM held at the same time as the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention & Trade Show, Canada’s premier horticultural event.  Over 1400 participants with at least 150 farmers’ market leaders, managers & vendors.  Some program highlights:

“Tools To Build Your Business & Increase Sales”
• New FMO web-designed food safety training manual
• New CD training video demonstrating good techniques in customer service
• FMO’s new website
• MyPick® new On-Line Application

“How to Create a Great Farmers’ Market Experience & Keep Customers Coming Back”.

Fifteen (15) new farmers’ markets were organized in 2010 and 2011 should see another 10 new ones.


24-Feb-10. 20th Annual FMO Networking Symposium & AGM.
February 24 & 25, 2010 – 20th Annual FMO Networking Symposium & AGM held again at the same time as the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention & Trade Show at St. Catharines, ON.  The Convention attracted over 1,400 participants with at least 125 farmers’ market leaders, managers and vendors in attendance.  Some Symposium highlights: 
  • Lori Colborne, Beaumont, AB delivered a dynamic one-day workshop which focused on leadership and motivation.
  • FMO’s Bylaws revised to reflect changes to our “Classes of Membership”.
  • MyPick™ Verified Local Farmer™ panel discussion featuring three (3) MyPick™ farmers and one of our inspectors.  Our new MyPick™ video and other materials were introduced.
  • Retail guru, John Stanley spoke for 30 minutes about pricing at farmers’ markets.  This session drew the largest audience of the day (132 people).
 It was announced that 14 new farmers’ markets were organized in 2009 and another dozen will be spawned in 2010.

18-Feb-09. 19th Annual FMO Networking Symposium & AGM.

February 18 & 19, 2009 - 19th Annual FMO Networking Symposium & AGM held again simultaneously with the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention & Trade Show at St. Catharines, ON. Over 1300 participants with at least 100 farmers’ market leaders, managers and vendors. The FMO sessions which attracted the most attention were:

  • “Results of a 2008 Farmers’ Markets Ontario Impact Study”
  • “The MyMarket Brand”
  • “The Real Farmer - Our Hero!”

The Impact Study revealed that 93% of Ontario shoppers state that buying directly from a local farmer is extremely important (67%) or somewhat important (26%). Annual sales at Ontario’s 154 farmers’ markets totalled at least $641 million in 2008 with an economic impact of $1.9 billion. There were over 15,000 million shopper visits during 2008.


24-Jun-08. Ontario Farmers' Markets Strategy.

Minister, Leona Dombrowsky, OMAFRA announced during a special event on the front lawn at Queen’s Park that the Government of Ontario is providing $4 million dollars over four years to help people buy food directly from Ontario farmers. FMO was told that it would receive $2.55 million...consisting of $750,000 in 2008-09 and $600,000 in each of the next three years to:

  • Expand the “MyMarket” brand with Farmers’ Markets Ontario, as well as at farmers’ markets that are not part of the organization through producer and market certification. This will help ensure that the products sold at markets are grown or made by local farmers.
  • Develop information to help farmers who may be new to selling at farmers’ markets.
  • Research what consumers are looking for when they buy Ontario food via direct marketing channels.
  • Undertake consumer awareness and marketing activities to promote these efforts. 

Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association will receive $250,000 in 2008-09 and $200,000 in each of the next three years.

OMAFRA is also committing up to $600,000 to provide business information and market analysis to Ontario farmers.

This initiative shall be referred to as the “Ontario Farmers’ Markets Strategy”.


   
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