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Study shows Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market ranks top 20 in B.C. for shopper traffic

The market boasted 567 shoppers per hour, surpassing the provincial average of 377 shoppers
Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market hosted the first market of the season on May 30 at Ferland Park. According to a recent survey results, the market sees over 40,000 visits and 30,000 shoppers annually. (Orlanthia Habsburg/ Omineca Express)

Vanderhoof Farmers’ Market (VFM) has secured its place among the top 20 farmer’s markets in B.C., boasting one of the highest numbers of shoppers per hour.

Market Manager, Grace Hardy presented the results of the 2023 BC Farmers’ Market Economic Impact Study (conducted by University of Norther British Columbia and BC Association of Farmers’ Market) to the Vanderhoof council on May 27.

Hardy presented the results of the survey to the council days before the first market of 2024 was held on May 30 at Ferland Park.

“We had a great turnout of people who enjoyed a delicious lunch, coffee, treats and excellent music… the vendors offered a wide variety of products, all handmade or produced by our local farmers,” Hardy said about the first market event.

The study, employing the Rapid Market Assessment Technique developed by Oregon University, surveyed 70 out of 135 farmer’s markets in the province, including Vanderhoof.

The study conducted in Vanderhoof, on June 29, 2023, utilized methodologies including crowd counts, which involved observing a ten-minute period of each hour while the market was open, and conducting one-on-one interviews with market shoppers and nearby businesses.

On the day of the study VFM welcomed 1,560 visitors.

The market boasted an impressive average of 567 shoppers per hour, surpassing the provincial average of 377 shoppers and rivaling larger cities like Vancouver and Kelowna.

Key findings from the study indicate an annual economic impact on the local economy of $2.01 million, with annual direct sales reaching $1.34 million.

Notably, the market sees over 40,000 visits and 30,000 shoppers annually, with 7 per cent identifying as tourists or day trippers. Hardy said getting these numbers from the study is significant as one of the future strategies they want to focus on includes increasing visitor counts through targeted advertising in local media outlets.

Quality produce emerged as the primary reason for attendees, alongside supporting local businesses and enjoying baked goods, arts, crafts, and social experiences.

In its 12-year history, the market has hosted 17 events with over 80 vendors, 75 per cent of whom hail from Vanderhoof and neighboring areas.

Looking to the future, Hardy outlined plans to enhance the market’s offerings and sustainability. Initiatives include increasing tourism through targeted advertising, improving power systems to accommodate vendor needs, enhancing the music stage, and implementing better waste management practices.

There’s a growing demand for energy from various sources such as coffee makers, food vendors with freezers, inflatable castles, and live music performances, necessitating an increase in power supply, she told the council.

They also seek to enhance the music stage by requesting the district to level the ground using paving stones and to review the sound equipment gear.

Furthermore,Hardy told the council that they aim to increase visibility through billboards along Highway 16, with a proposed budget of approximately $7,500. Applications for grants and aid from the district are underway to support these endeavors. Additionally, she requested the maintenance of the lawn and suggested watering it once during the summer season.

Hardy’s outlined the funding structure of the market, indicating that their financial support relies solely on what they raise along with small grants. Despite this, the market has thrived and shows no signs of outgrowing its current space at Ferland Park. One notable requirement is that 50 per cent of their vendors must be food producers or processors, ensuring a diverse array of locally sourced goods.

The market operates every Thursday at Ferland Park from 10 am to 2 pm until September 26. This week, (June 6) a group of students from Nechako Valley Senior Secondary will be showing their creations, Hardy said.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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