VFM: Essential to Local Businesses
Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) plays an essential role in local business incubation, providing opportunities for new farmers, food producers, and craft artisans to direct market their goods with the public. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our markets have provided over 250 small farms and businesses with vital revenue sources at a time when many other sales channels have become limited.
In 2020, we introduced 45 new producers to our vendor roster, and supported 33 youth-owned and 106 women-owned small farms and businesses. Our vendor pool encompasses a wide diversity of businesses, including organic and biodynamic farms, urban growers, and social enterprises. And VFM is not just essential to vendors – many of our producers also supply local restaurants and other food businesses, making Vancouver Farmers Markets essential to restaurants, cafés, and food trucks looking to source the freshest seasonal food for their menus.
In our new digital series, Vancouver Farmers Markets Are Essential, we’re sharing stories from our community that highlight how important markets are to people’s lives and livelihoods. This week, we’re showcasing some of our vendor businesses, including Tayybeh and Morgan’s Harbour, along with local Commercial Drive eatery Ugly Dumpling. Stay tuned for more stories in the coming weeks!
“For Tayybeh, the Vancouver Farmers Markets are incredibly important. It was through the markets that we first started selling some of our traditional Syrian products. Shoppers who had only heard of Tayybeh had an opportunity to get to know our team, our work, and our values. As sales from VFM grew, so did opportunities for us to grow our team of Syrian newcomer women and to provide them with sustainable employment.
When COVID-19 hit, our catering operations were brought to a halt and we had to come up with alternative solutions to ensure that our team did not suffer a significant loss of income. Thankfully the markets helped keep us going by giving us a window to connect with our customers and sustain the business. Every market date is an opportunity for us to meet with the community and for our team to remain engaged and sustainably employed, for that we are very grateful.”
-Nihal Elwan, founder of Tayybeh. Learn more about Tayybeh and their mission at tayybeh.com.
“VFM has played an integral part in the growth and development of our business. Initially we applied for Vancouver Farmers Markets as a way to increase exposure of Jamaican Patties in general, widen our audience, and get real insight into what people thought of them. It was the feedback and community surrounding the markets that guided us towards positive change in our recipes and our company over the years. We learned more about sustainability and the importance of sourcing locally – it was the influence from shoppers at Mount Pleasant Farmers Market that inspired us to create the Vegan patty.
The shoppers and customers we’ve met truly care about supporting local businesses. Every sale at the farmers market supports us directly and makes a huge impact; we’ve been able to pay our employees well and choose local suppliers. We’re humbled that we have the opportunity to be a positive influence in our own community because of the support we’ve received. VFM has been an essential stepping stone in the growth of the business… we still have much to learn and we’re looking forward to being a part of the Vancouver Farmers Markets for many years to come.”
-Brian Chin, founder and owner of Morgan’s Harbour. Discover their delicious Jamaican patties at morgansharbour.ca
“Farmers markets are a hub for anyone who cares about good food. As a restaurateur committed to using locally grown produce, they are a lifeline. In winter months and especially throughout the pandemic, the Vancouver Farmers Markets have been an essential way to connect with farmers, even when I couldn’t place an order large enough to justify a delivery. In summer they are a celebration of the most vibrant mouthwatering produce. Seeing, smelling, and tasting a new varietal or fresh harvest is a thousand times better than reading about it on a fresh sheet.
As a city dweller, the markets are an important visual reminder of seasonality. It’s hard not to be fooled that asparagus is in season in early April when the city’s grocery stores and menus start to be flooded; but a quick walk around the market tells me that I’ll have to wait just a little longer. More than anything, farmer’s markets are a place where I can meet the people who grow our food, supporting them means that they can continue to feed all of us.”
-Darren Gee, owner of Ugly Dumpling. Check out their seasonal market menus at uglydumpling.ca
Vancouver Farmers Markets is committed to providing safe and thriving farmers markets for the City of Vancouver, now and in the future. To find out how to support us in the work we do, visit eatlocal.org/support-us
Banner photo: Kaishin Chu/onelushlife.com