VICTORIA – Farmers’ markets in the province are receiving funding from the governments of Canada and British Columbia to help cover the costs to expand local food and beverage sales, and operate during emergencies.
“With the floods and wildfires in B.C. this past year, farmers’ markets give us a chance to directly support our local farmers, who, despite all the challenges, continue to deliver great food for us,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This investment will help B.C. farmers bounce back in the coming years by making sure farmers’ markets can serve our communities in times of need.”
The new BC Farmers’ Market Expansion Program will support the expansion of farmers’ markets to accommodate more vendors and maintain operations during emergencies to ensure communities throughout B.C. have continued access to food. The one-time program is providing $475,000, with up to $15,000 available for each eligible applicant.
“This new program funding will help ensure farmers’ markets can stay open and operate during emergencies so British Columbians can access the foods they count on,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “Through the pandemic and extreme weather events the province has seen over the last year and a half, the importance of local food has never been greater. Markets will be able to grow and welcome more vendors while keeping everyone healthy and safe.”
Farmers’ markets can use the funding for signs and merchandising, storage and transportation, and power and operations costs. Eligible applicants include non-profit groups, co-operatives, for-profit corporations, local governments and First Nations that operate a farmers’ market that primarily sells B.C. food and beverage products. A farmers’ market must have been in operation for at least one year (established prior to November 2020) or operated in the summer 2021 season to be eligible.
“Community-based farmers’ markets across B.C. are a key anchor for local and regional food systems supporting thousands of local farm, food and artisanal businesses,” said Heather O’Hara, executive director, BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. “The BC Farmers’ Market Expansion Program is a critical investment in the resiliency of local farmers’ markets, which have risen to the challenge and fed our communities in both good times and throughout COVID, forest fires and flooding.”
The funding is a one-time, cost-shared, reimbursement-based program delivered through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, in collaboration with the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. It will help markets come back stronger from their pre-pandemic operating levels, set a strong foundation for future growth and long-term success, and support efforts to strengthen B.C.’s food security.