Thirteen people participated in the recent 2nd annual Cumberland Farmers Market Coordinators Gathering held in Amherst. This unique event brings coordinators together to share common concerns, successes and challenges and is beneficial in many ways. Several attendees noted the networking opportunities that the event provided and newer markets can learn from the experience of those markets that have been around longer. The gathering also provides a forum for our county’s many markets to present a unified voice and to work cooperatvely to cross-promote one another.
According to a recent economic impact study conducted by Farmers Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS), farmers markets spark a whole lot of economic spin-offs in the communities where they are present. For example, the Pugwash Farmers Market, one of the markets participating in the study, was shown to have infused $36,260 into their local economy on just one market day. There are several other benefits as well, including increased income security for local farmers and artisans, who often look to local markets as a venue for diversifying their income base. The study also illustrated the positive impact that a farmers’ market has on surrounding local businesses. Farmers’ markets help keep money in our area and are therefore, playing an important role in revitalizing our rural communities.
There has been a steady growth of new markets in Cumberland County over the past decade, which is very encouraging says Keltie Butler of FMNS. Butler is the Executive Director of the provincial coop organization which promotes farmers markets throughout NS and has seen a rise in the growth of farmers markets and market-based businesses across the province. She believes that this is a hopeful sign, not only for the local food movement and local food producers, but for the economic health of our region. Markets are a great way of incubating local businesses, a starting point for many local businesses to “get their feet wet”, in a low-risk, low cost environment she adds. FMNS provides market-based businesses with training opportunities and skill enhancement as well – an offering that has earned the organization recognition across Canada.
Cumberland boasts 8 farmers markets, spread out across the entire County and ranging in size from under 10 vendors to over 40. These markets vary in other ways too – types of vendors, length of season, governance structures and much more. Most are volunteer-run, with one local market having a part-time paid coordinator. Each market is a unique experience. All of our County farmers markets help improve access to fresh, nutritious local food, which is great for the health of people in our communities – and delicious!
For a list of Cumberland Market locations and dates of operation, please refer to the Cumberland Food Action Network website at: http://cumberlandfoodactionnetwork.ca/ However, please note that this guide has yet to be updated for the 2015 growing season…check back in sometime in mid-May. A hard copy of this list will also be available around the County too towards the end of May, so keep your eyes peeled and grab a copy to stick on your fridge. They will be available at various locations such as Manasseh Local Food Store, tourism kiosks and of course at each of the farmers markets.
For more information about FMNS visit http://farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/
To view FMNS’ Economic Impact Study, visit http://farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/farmers-market-economic-impact-study-nova-scotia-2013/
Blog written by Su Morin, Ecology Action Centre, Community Food Coordinator – Cumberland