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Farmers' Market Coordinator Meet-up

- by Kristie Beynon


Direct Farm Manitoba hosted a FarmersMarket Meet Up on May 5, 2018. It was an excellent meeting and a great way for coordinators to get together! 13 people attended representing 7 member markets. The intent of the meet up was to bring Farmer Market Coordinators and staff together at the beginning of the market season to share ideas, problem solve together, and discuss issues of common concern. We also took advantage of the meet up to bring in the Chief Health Inspector Mike LeBlanc to discuss a number of questions and concerns that arose at the end of the last market season and were brought forward at the DFM Summit in November, 2017.

Below is a basic summary of the information shared by the Chief Health Inspector:

  • Market is responsible to provide:
    • Application for market itself (where, when, site plan, list of vendors/what they’re selling/whether it’s potentially hazardous food/their permit if they have one)(2 weeks in advance)
    • Coordinators supply the list of vendors, contact information, and the food being sold
      • New vendors don’t need the full 2 weeks in advance (just get it updated and sent ASAP)
    • Permit is issued to market coordinator themselves in the name of the market
      • It is acceptable if the coordinator on the permit isn’t there on a given day (assuming there is still a point person on the site at a given time)
  • Food trucks and food cooked at the market:
    • Food trucks are considered standalone business/restaurants and have their own permit
  • Hand washing station:
    • Can be a water dispenser and a bucket(doesn’t need to be hot and cold) if you don’t have a washroom with hot and cold water already available
  • Labelling (for low non-hazardous food items):
    • It is acceptable for a product to be sold out of a display case and not be individually labelled. Vendors are required to have a master sheet on hand with the ingredients
  • Working with your health inspector:
    • Call office and speak with Regional Manager if there are any issues with individual health inspectors
    • Mike LeBlanc can be contacted if there are questions or if individual health inspector information differs from the guidelines
    • It is encouraged to meet with your health inspector to create relationship
    • Offices in Winnipeg (one for east and one for west), Morden, Interlake, western Manitoba
    • Working towards consistency between all departments/province wide
    • Larger markets are considered public events (different scale between smaller markets and larger ones)
  • Sampling:
    • Sampling is permitted with a non-hazardous food item; if it’s hazardous they need to get their own permit first
    • Cut fruit/vegetable samples are acceptable (assuming everything is sanitary)
  • Frozen Food:
    • Individual vendors are required to have their own thermometers in the freezers
  • Manitoba Agriculture & Manitoba Health:
    • Work with the same regulations
    • Manitoba Agriculture regulates larger/commercial food producers/processors
      • Will issue larger producers their own permit
    • Manitoba Health deals with smaller scale processors/vendors

Following discussion with the Chief Health Inspector, Marilyn Firth – Executive Director of St.Norbert’s Farmers Markets provided information about and a tour of their new four season canopy building that is opening shortly. Below is an overview of what was shared:

St. Norbert FarmersMarket Information

  • Canopy Information
    • 10 years ago raised enough money for a feasibility study
      • SNFM feasibility study cost $65,000
        • Province paid for half of the study
      • Over $1 million spent on the site over the past 10 years
        • SNFM Phases:
          • Drainage
          • Washrooms
          • Canopy
    • It is noted that it takes a long time and requires meeting with numerous people and writing many grants, many of which are turned down
  • SNFM has two volunteers each week
    • Information booth/manage washrooms
  • Important not to have too many of the same type of vendors to ensure vendors keep coming back
  • SNFM staff don’t regulate vendor prices

Open Conversation – General discussion between all attendees followed:

  • Discussion about different individual regulations surrounding what’s allowed to be sold in markets (Make It, Bake It, Grow It, etc.)
  • Discussion about whether markets do anything about people coming early and pre-picking
    • Consensus that most markets don’t allow people to pre-purchase before the actual market starts, although some do. It is good to ask the question of how much energy is desired to deal with this.
  • Canopy quote from Impact Canopies from St. Malo Market:
    • $559.99 USD per canopy

Questions from Direct Farm Manitoba

  • What can DFM do for markets?
    • St. Norbert FarmersMarket replied: Feasibility study (last study was done in 2008) for FarmersMarkets in Manitoba to show what their impact is. It is noted that this would be good information to have accessible when farmersmarkets are looking for grants/funding.

Our plan is to hold regular meet ups for FarmersMarket staff and volunteer coordinators in order to provide opportunities for networking, sharing information and problem solving.