A New Public Market for Victoria

In the spring of 2013, a new permanent farmers’ market will become a destination for locals and tourists in downtown Victoria, thanks in part to a project partially funded through IAF.

Portable tents and tables are the standard structures at most farmers’ markets in BC these days.  Occupying a space on a permanent basis, like Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, carries greater financial risk.

Unfortunately, several attempts at establishing permanent farmers’ markets in BC have failed in recent years.

“We didn’t want our permanent market to become a ghost town,” states Philipe Lucas, chair of the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society (VDPMS).  “We needed to determine how to grow our market in a feasible way.”

The Victoria Public Market Needs Assessment and Governance Model project identified key success factors of thriving permanent markets in nine North American cities.

The project also included a thorough market analysis and a financial plan for five years.

A local developer expressed interest in including a market in its mixed residential-retail development on the site of the former Hudson’s Bay in downtown Victoria.

This site became an important case study in the project.

“Because the VDPMS has signed an agreement with Townline Properties to manage the market at the Hudson, we will be able to provide competitive rates for our vendors,” declares Lucas. “This is a win-win partnership.”

Funding: $10,000 provided through the Agri-Food Futures Fund. (AF002-I0503)

Sweet Tweet

Fresh may be best, but when it comes to strawberries, harvest time brings considerable challenges for growers.

In BC, the strawberry harvest lasts for only four weeks, giving growers a very small window of time to move millions of pounds of berries.

By the time the consumer is aware of their availability, the season is almost over, leaving producers who don’t pre-arrange sales with the potential for a spoilt berry surplus and financial losses.

For the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association, keeping producers and consumers connected during the critical harvest time was a job for social media.

With help from IAF, the Association got together with local growers to demonstrate various social media applications. Through tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs, producers are now able to access an enormous consumer base and provide continual updates about the strawberry harvest on their farms.

Now the only problem that an abundance of fresh strawberries presents is what recipe to try!

Funding: $7,750 allocated through the former federal-provincial Safety Nets framework. (SP170)