Aurora Farmers Market & Artisan Fair: Maximizing youth community volunteer hours

The Aurora Farmers Market & Artisan Fair is a dynamic market with lots of events and activities, including active living demonstrations (yoga, exercise, etc.), story time hosted by the Aurora library, live performances by a community theatre group, a children’s craft table, a sponsor’s table and musical entertainment. To make it all happen, the Market embraces the community involvement requirement for Ontario high school students. Every student must complete 40 hours of volunteer time in addition to their academic requirements in order to graduate. The Market engages an average of six students each market day for a total of 48 students over a 27-week season.

What happens?

Student volunteer sampling strawberries

  • Market board members contact the 4 area high schools and attend two youth fairs to recruit student volunteers.
  • Students complete the market’s Volunteer Position Application
  • Market board members review the applications, interview the students and schedule them based on their availability.
  • The students arrive at 6 am and assist vendors in unloading their vehicles and setting up for the day’s activities and events.
  • Once the market opens at 8 am, the students take turns doing traffic control, attending the sponsorship table and animating the children’s craft table.
  • When the market closes at 1 pm the students help the vendors load their vehicles.
  • The students receive some basic training and wear reflective safety vests for identification and safety.
  • The students are supervised by the Market Manager.

Who makes it happen?

Student volunteers helping out with the Market’s very successful Star Wars-themed May the 4th Be With You event

  • The market board members are very active and engaged in Market programming.
  • Board members attend the two youth fairs and review the volunteer application forms.
  • Board members promote the market and seek sponsors to help pay for programming. In 2019, twelve sponsors contributed anywhere from $100 to $1,000 each.
  • Student volunteers receive $5 in Aurora Farmers Market & Artisan Fair Bucks per day to cover their lunch costs at the market. The annual cost of the market bucks, approximately $1,000, is covered by the sponsorship program.
  • The Market Manager supervises the students and completes the required paperwork to confirm their volunteer hours.

What are the results?

  • 48 youth give over 2,000 hours of time annually to help the market operate.
  • 48 youth experience the market each season and interact with their community.
  • Thousands of market shoppers engage with the students and have the opportunity to appreciate their skills and acknowledge their contribution to the community.

“The students are wonderful! They work really hard for us and have a great time doing it. We couldn’t run the Market without them.”

Cathy Williams, Chair, Aurora Farmers Market & Artisan Fair

“One young man has volunteered for three years – he has never missed a day! He’s here and ready to go at 6 am every Saturday.”

Anne Waters, Market Manger, Aurora Farmers Market & Artisan Fair

Aurora Farmers Market and Artisan Fair operates in the Town Park on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm from early May to late October.

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