BC Association of Farmers' markets
Supporting BC farmers and sustaining our local food supply means ensuring we have land to farm and fresh food to eat. It's a way to nurture the places we live and visit.

2018 Conference Workshop Descriptions

2018 Conference Workshop Descriptions

Networking Events

FREE! Roundtable Sessions for Market Managers, Board of Directors and Vendors

  • Friday, March 2, 2018 (2-5pm) @ Inn at Laurel Point
  • Do you have questions you'd like to discuss with other vendors, farmers, market managers, or board members? This is your chance! Bring your questions and queries to the roundtable sessions. These sessions are FREE!

Friday Night Welcome Reception

  • ​Friday, March 2, 2018 (7-9pm) @ Imagine Studio Café (31 Erie Street)
  • Come connect with other BCAFM members! The reception includes scrumptious appetizers, a voucher for a local beverage and cash bar. 
  • Put on in partnership with the Island Chefs Collaborative

Banquet & Farmers' Market Awards

  • Saturday, March 3, 2018 (7-10pm) @ Inn at Laurel Point
  • Join us for a sumptuous feast of food and drink. This evening will feature our annual Farmers' Market Awards ceremony. The event will be MCed by Steve Walker Duncan, Chair of Camosun College’s Culinary Arts Program, Vice President of the Island Chefs Collaborative, and host of the TV show, Flavours of the West Coast. Musical entertainment from Daniel Cook & the Radiators.
  • Guests will enjoy a BC sourced meal from Avalon Dairy; Fry's Bakery; Green Cuisine; Little Qualicum Cheese Works; Lockwood Farms; Michelle Rose Community Supported Fishing; Northstar Organics; Promise Valley Farm; Rondiso Farms; Saanich Organics; Salt Spring Sprouts; Sunninghill Farms; Suntrio Farm; Sun Wing Tomatoes.

MarketSafe Training

Presented by MarketSafe & FOODSAFE

Date: Friday, March 2
Time: 9:30am to ~5pm (lunch: 12pm-1:20pm)
Venue: Inn at Laurel Point
Instructors: Joanne Lum and Craig Nowakowski (Vancouver Island Health Authority)
MarketSafe training is for farmers, food processors and producers who make, bake or grow products to sell at local farmers' markets, farm gates or other types of temporary food markets. It increases awareness and knowledge of food safety and safe food handling procedures for farmers’ market vendors, market managers, farm gate vendors, home kitchen small scale food processors, and others who may make, bake or produce food products for public consumption outside of regulated food service establishments. MarketSafe is not equivalent to FOODSAFE Level 1. 

Please note, if you registered for an All-Inclusive or Conference Only pass, this MarketSafe training is already included. You can also register for MarketSafe training on its own ($25). Limited to 50 participants. 

Workshop List

Workshop Descriptions

A Farmer's Guide to Best Practices in Selling at Farmers' Markets

Anna Helmer, Helmer's Organic Farm; Heather O'Hara, BC Association of Farmers' Markets

Farmers' markets are a fairly mature segment of this new food system that values quality of taste and production methods. However, they are facing a lot of competition from both within and without. In this workshop, ​Anna and Heather will share practical tips, and best business practices for farmers selling at BC farmers' markets. ​

Anna will use her 20 years of experience selling at farmers' markets to help other growers strengthen their market presence. New vendors can find help with the basics of choosing which markets to attend, products to sell, and how to sell them. Existing vendors can find some helpful tricks and tips to take their marketing to the next level. Hopefully the result is increased sales for farmers and increased satisfaction for customers, leading ultimately to the increased vitality of the farmers' market sector.

Heather is a new farmer herself, and brings over 10 years of experience in non-profit, social enterprise and entrepreneurial leadership to her position as BCAFM executive director. She will share best practices of successful farmers who sell at farmers’ markets including: finding a farmers’ market, how to become a farmers’ market vendor, how to maximize and leverage your farmers’ market storefront to build sales and customers in multiple sales channels, and marketing and merchandising tips.


BC Farmers' Markets - Market Research and Marketing Strategy

Greg McLaren and Vanessa Daether, Farm|Food|Drink Business Advisory Team & Left Field Marketing
Greg McLaren, Managing Director of Farm|Food|Drink Business Advisory Team & Left Field Marketing, with Research Lead Vanessa Daether, will be presenting the results of the Market Research and Market Development Strategy conducted during Spring-Fall 2017, on behalf of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets.
During this presentation, Vanessa will present on the research phase of the project, highlighting the outcomes and recommendations. From there, Greg will discuss how those research recommendations influenced the second phase, and the strategies and tactics developed for BCAFM and their farmers’ market members.
This presentation offers key insights into strategic opportunities for BCAFM in both the short and long term and will also offer an overview of the current market situation for BC farmers’ markets, and what they can do to effectively grow their market share and sales on a region by region basis.


BC Government Changes to Organic Labeling

Jen Gamble, Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) 
Beginning fall of 2018, producers, processors and handlers of organic food and beverage products will require documentation verifying their products have accredited organic certification — this includes farm gate sales, farmers’ markets and retail stores. The mandatory organic regulation is driven by a consumer need for clear definitions and regulations around the term “organic.” What does this mean for producers?

This workshop will explore the new regulation and its impact on producers, both certified and non-certified, as well as dive into the steps to becoming certified and the support available to producers who plan to transition — including an overview of an innovative new online tool to streamline the certification process. This workshop will be essential for everyone from farmers currently using organic practices to bakeries labeling products as organic.

Building Community Through Social Connection: Creating and Implementing a Cohesive Marketing Strategy for Your Farmers' Market

Melissa Hartfiel and Ethan Adeland, Food Bloggers of Canada Social media and social influencer marketing aren’t new but they do evolve at a speed that can make your head spin. Making the most of these powerful tools can become time consuming and, at times, confusing. But following a consistent, 12 month, cohesive social marketing plan can pay back in dividends by helping build a healthy, engaged community around your market. It can expand your market demographics, encourage word of mouth marketing, increase foot traffic, and encourage your vendors to amplify your social marketing efforts through their own social channels.

This session will give you all the tools you need to create and implement a social strategy for your market and give you the confidence to evolve your plan as the social landscape changes. Here’s what will be covered:

·  An overview of existing social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, including their demographics and personalities (they’re not all the same and they each require their own approach!)
·  Tools, apps and templates available to help you schedule updates (so you aren’t tied to your phone 24/7), keep track of your content and create videos and graphics on the fly
·  Tips on content creation for each social channel and how to repurpose content across different channels
·  How to use Instagram Stories, Instagram Live and Facebook Live for in the moment updates and showcasing your vendors (we can run an Instagram Live from our account during the workshop and invite attendees to participate)
·  Tips for involving market vendors in your social plan including ways to cross promote - How to approach and work with local social influencers, chefs, nutritionists and dieticians as part of your social strategy
·  Tips for recruiting local students to create a social “street team” on market days
·  Strategies for creating fresh, consistent content throughout the winter months to keep your market top of mind

Connecting the Dots - Cowichan's Food Hub

Heather Kaye, www.cow-op.ca; Debra Cebula, Cowichan Green Community
This workshop will explore some of the initiatives food security organization Cowichan Green Community (CGC) and its partner, farmer and food processor co-operative, the Cowichan Valley Co-operative Marketplace (aka Cow-op), are currently delivering as part of their effort to build a comprehensive food hub for the Cowichan region. Particular emphasis will be given to the online marketplace initiative, www.cow-op.ca.

Attendees will learn critical factors for engagement and success as well as have the opportunity to ask questions about how this model might be applied to other regions. Our goal is to showcase the powerful potential in food security and economic development that can happen/is happening when all of these programs successfully intersect.

Participants will be provided a template of questions that can be asked in order to determine whether this type of model can be applied to other communities or regions. We will connect the dots together! Food Hub initiatives that will be covered include:

1. On the farmer and food processor side:
- the co-operative and its online farmers' market initiative, www.cow-op.ca
- CGC’s commercial kitchen for small-scale processors

- CGC’s Equipment and Processing Library pilot program
2. On the consumer side:
- CGC and the BCAFM Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program
- CGC’s Cowichan Grown Farm, Food and Drink Map

- CGC’s Educational opportunities including cooking classes, preservation workshops, urban farming, compost demonstration, and FruitSave – a gleaning project for unwanted fruit

Farmers, Markets, and Chefs!

Chris Hammer and Steve Walker Duncan, Island Chefs Collaborative
This workshop will explore the connections between three important elements of the local food system - farmers, markets, and chefs! 
The Island Chefs Collaborative's (ICC) vision is for a local and sustainable food and agricultural system. Serving Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, their goal is to help create an environment where independent local food producers can prosper - and farmers, market vendors, market managers, and chefs are all partners in this undertaking. This workshop will discuss the community activities the ICC is engaging in to educate children, families and community members about healthy eating and food systems. The presentation will be followed by a discussion about initiatives taking place in different regions of BC, and how participants see organizations such as the Island Chefs' Collaborative, or individual chefs, supporting farmers' markets across BC. 

Food Safety at Farmers' Markets: Updates and new developments on food safety training and market requirements

Sion Shyng, BC Centre for Disease ControlDaphne Sidaway-Wolf, BC Ministry of Health; Kevin Touchet, Interior Health Authority
This workshop will provide information and updates on the FOODSAFE Suite of training programs – FOODSAFE, MarketSafe, and ProcessSafe. Learn how the new course ProcessSafe, being beta-tested this spring, can help enhance small scale processors’ food safety, reduce product waste and recalls, and increase useable product. See one of ProcessSafe’s short videos: ‘A Day in the Life of a Confectioner.’ The session will also explore the roles of Environmental Health Officers, BC Centre for Disease Control – Environmental Health Services, market managers, and market vendors, and how they can successfully partner to ensure safe farmers’ markets for all.

Good Governance at Your Local Farmers' Market

Paige Dampier, Langley Community Farmers' Market; Tabitha McLoughlin, Coquitlam Farmers Market
Good governance is surely the objective of any farmers' market board of directors, but prospective board members may arrive feeling unsure of what exactly that means, and what their role is in ensuring it. The line between governance and day-to-day running the market can blur very quickly, especially in smaller market societies. Participants will learn about available resources and best practices in recruiting and orienting new board members, organizing their boards, and maintaining a focus on proper governance procedures in their organization. Resources and presentation input compiled by members of the Langley Community Farmers' Market, Coquitlam Farmers Market, and the Comox Valley Farmers' Market. 

Growing Your Small Farmers' Market

Miche Warwick, Eat Grow Flourish The purpose of this interactive session is to help small farmers' market managers/teams (and vendors!) learn tangible tips and tricks for starting and growing small farmers' markets into sustainable and busy marketplaces. This session will look at:
- attracting and retaining new vendors
- the benefits of creating a community-driven society/market team

- marketing + promotions tips and tricks geared specifically for small markets
- financial management, fundraising and grant streams
- recruiting and maintaining volunteers
- farmers' market structure
- how to build a small farmers' market that emphasizes and celebrates local food
- reselling: what not to do

- the benefits of operating a year round farmers' market, and how to do it successfully as a small market
- operating a small farmers' market as a business incubator (akin to a chamber of commerce, almost!)
- revenue streams: getting creative to boost annual revenue
- paying a market manager: hurdles, how to overcome them, and creative solutions to a not-so-easy-to-solve problem

This workshop will be very interactive, and participants will come away with new contacts, ideas, as well as a Growing Small Farmers’ Market Tool Kit. 

Kids Programming at Farmers' Markets

Sarah Kinsman and Tabitha McLoughlin, Coquitlam Farmers Market
During the 2017 season, the Coquitlam Farmers Market piloted a 17-week youth agricultural program. The purpose of the program was to deepen the market's engagement with the younger demographic, ages 5-12, to teach them about healthy food choices, financial literacy, and local food systems in a fun and engaging way. The wider, longterm goal was to cultivate the next generation of local food advocates. The program consisted of three parts: a weekly activity; the Two–Bite Club; and an earned $3 token for purchasing a fruit or vegetable of their choice. Upon sign up, each participant received a passport in which they recorded the weekly activities, what food they tried, if they liked it, and any other learnings. This workshop will discuss the program, how it was funded, the staffing requirements, the market's learnings, and the impact on the market.

Telling Your Farming Story Through Social Media

Kendall Ballantine, Central Park Farms
Consumers are wanting to get back to a place where they know where their food comes from, how it is produced, and who the farmers are who bring food to their family's table. Social media has become a valuable tool for farmers to share their own farming story. During this workshop, Kendall will focus on the different social media networks available, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and show participants how to use these platforms to grow a community around their farm. Not only is social media a great way to promote farming stories, but it's a fantastic tool to cross promote the farmers' markets and the other vendors at those markets.

Traceability from Farm to Fork

Christopher Napier, Napier West Enterprises
Regulatory affairs is a largely misunderstood segment of the food industry. It can be found as a sub-department under the umbrella of better understood departments within companies. Some examples include product development, legal, and quality assurance. Wherever the regulatory team falls within an organization, its task is the same.

Regulatory affairs isn’t just about creating compliant label copy for new product launches. Although creating compliant nutrition facts panels, nutrition content claims and accurate ingredient declarations is a big part of the job, a much larger part of the job is the paper work which goes along with it. This is where regulatory affairs becomes instrumental in the monumental task of traceability. The thankless and grueling work of sourcing and filing specifications, nutrition information, allergen information and Kosher certificates, not to mention certificates of analysis and certificates of guarantee, often falls on the regulatory team. Without this, traceability cannot exist. Christopher Napier, regulatory affairs specialist, will guide you through the tricky world of nutritional labelling and set you on the path to making your products 100% traceable.


Transparency and Integrity at Farmers' Markets - Lessons from Washington and BC

Colleen Donovan, Farmers Market Integrity Project
One of the enduring distinctions farmers’ markets enjoy is shoppers’ trust. Trust in the products being sold, trust in the vendors, and trust in the market itself. However, as farmers’ markets’ popularity, sales, and complexity have grown, so too have the challenges farmers’ markets face to know and verify a growing number of vendors. Feeding this challenge is the diversity of businesses, volume of products, regional microclimates, layers of regulations, distance between farms and markets, as well as language, literacy, and technology divides. And yet, in the words of a veteran manager, “farmers and the public are reliant on me to have high quality methods to research and assure the claims made in our market are accurate.” Likewise, if shopper trust is broken at one farmers’ market, it hurts all farmers’ markets.

Building on lessons and insights from the Washington State Farmers Market Integrity Project, Colleen Donovan will set the context by discussing what farmers’ market integrity means and why it matters. She will also share research on different models farmers’ markets have to build transparency and integrity; thinking through key “operating principles” that any market can apply. She will also highlight tools and tips that farmers’ markets can deploy to protect against issues ranging from misleading signage and supplementing or misrepresenting products to breaking market policies and consumer fraud.

Waste Free Dreams: A Farmers' Market Journey

Mirella Colagrande and Amanda Broad, Esquimalt Farmers Market; Gabriella Vacheresse and Randy Elliott, Vancouver Farmers Markets This workshop will share lessons learned and best practices on how to move a farmers' market towards being waste free. Participants will be engaged through activities and lively discussions on how to collaboratively engage with their local government, community members and vendors on steps towards waste reduction. Participants will leave with tips, tricks, and resources for starting their own market on a waste free journey.