“We have more than 130 approved markets serving about 110 communities around the province that are open throughout the summer,” says Eileen Kotowich, farmers’ market specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). “This includes more than 20 markets that operate year round.”
She says Alberta’s farmers’ markets offer a diverse selection of goods.
“What you’ll see in the markets right now are lots of greenhouse bedding plants and vegetables, early season vegetables, and lots of preserves, baking, prepared foods, and other year-round products like meat, eggs and honey.”
Part of the success of farmers’ markets is that consumers want to know where their food comes from and to make that connection with the producers.
“It gives you a feeling of trust when you can look the producer in the eye and talk to them about how they raise their animals, grow their crops or prepare their ready-to-eat foods.”
A minimum of 80% of venders’ products must be produced in Alberta to qualify as an Alberta approved farmers’ market.
The markets will look a little different this year as they incorporate increased protocols and safety measures into their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vendor stalls and tables are separated within the market, increased cleaning and sanitizing of high touch point surfaces happens during the market. Crowds will be asked to use one entrance and exit so that crowd numbers can be monitored to ensure physical distancing. Customers are being encouraged to shop with purpose so that everyone who wants to attend a market has an opportunity to support their local makers, bakers and growers.
AF introduced a mobile app for both Apple and Android devices a few years ago. This app allows users to easily find any Alberta approved farmers’ markets in their area or around the province, search by day of the week or type of market.
“It is especially important this year that customers check the information online,” she explains. “Some markets have changed location, hours of operation and opening dates for the season in order to better implement the increased safety measures. A few markets have decided to remain closed for the season. We are updating the online information as we receive it so that customers are not disappointed.”
Visit http://www.sunnygirl.ca/ to download it or to view an interactive map of Alberta approved farmers’ markets.
For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line: