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Basic Vendor Profiles; Farmers Markets

Here at Foodtree, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about local food markets.

The primary spot that most eaters encounter the people actually producing their food is at the local farmers market.  In recent years, farmers markets have become increasingly popular, with more than 5,200 in the US at last count.  In Canada, estimated sales in 2009 topped a billion dollars.  That’s billion with a “B”!

Just last week Tara Mc-Donald, executive director of the Vancouver Farmers Markets, had this to say:

“We can’t create farmers markets fast enough, there are waiting lists of farmers who want to get in, but we don’t have enough space at any of our markets to put them all,” said Tara Mc-Donald, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Markets, which runs the city’s four established markets. “We are seeing upwards of 12,000 people a week.” [link]

That’s a sentiment popping up everywhere, and yet meaningful connections with the proprietors at these markets is pretty tough to pull off once you’ve left the market.  Just look at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market online directory…not a single street address is listed and there’s room for a phone number or a website, but not both.

With just minutes of research, we know that many of our local vendors have street addresses, phone numbers, and websites, and in many cases they even have facebook pages and twitter accounts.  Every one of those details is a way for eaters and producers to share feedback, answer questions, and remain loyal to one another.   

All over North America, the same problem exists.  The most basic directory information for our very best food producers is very difficult to find, and even harder to use for things like shopping lists, recipes, or sharing within a community.

So we’re starting at home, and we’re going to solve this problem.

This is why we set up an open collection spreadsheet for the Vancouver farmers markets, and sent along this tweet last week:

If you’re in the Vancouver area, feel free to pitch in.  Lots of what we’re looking for will turn up in Google, via vendor web pages and larger food directories.  Some of it isn’t available or doesn’t exist, and that’s fine too.  Entering “N/A” into a spot on the spreadsheet is perfectly acceptable.

Are you a food producer serving the Vancouver markets?  Make sure your information is accurate!

Here’s the thing; we’ll happily do this ourselves.  We think a decent list of the local farmers market vendors is something a community should have.  

Making the collection effort public seemed to be a fun way to bring everyone together on this, and to allow those of you who were just at the market to give a little back to the vendors who smiled and shook your hand.  

Thoughts?  Comments?  

If you’re in another city, we’re planning our next few projects, so let us know where you are and we’ll try to include you!

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