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Thread: Calgary farmers' markets

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    Default Calgary farmers' markets

    Another farmers' market season is upon us and because of my involvement in 1 of Calgary's 5 Alberta approved farmers' markets, I figured I'd get some information out there.

    To start, there are only 5 Alberta approved farmers' markets within Calgary boundaries - they would be as follows...[list=1][*]Grassroots Northland Farmers' Market - operates Tuesday afternoons June through September, Calgary's oldest now in their 24th year of continuous operation and Calgary's largest seasonal outdoor farmers' market. Web site [*]Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers' Market - operates Wednesday afternoons June through September, a Calgary inner-city farmers' market often with live entertainment. Web site [*]Bridgeland Riverside Farmers' Market - operates Thursday afternoons June through September, another Calgary inner-city farmers' market. Web site [*]Marda Loop Farmers' Market - operates Saturday afternoons June through September, another small Calgary's inner-city farmers' market. Web site [*]Calgary Farmers' Market - operates Thursday through Sunday year round, Calgary's largest farmers' market. Web site[/list=1]
    Now there are a number of other markets within Calgary's boundaries and some of these have been Alberta approved farmers' markets in the past - this approval means that the market itself and all attending vendors have to meet strict food safety rules plus meet a number of other qualifications to be on the Alberta approved farmers' markets list. Being in this list also means that 80% of the attending vendors have to make/bake/grow their product in Alberta. More information on what it takes to be an Alberta approved farmers' market and the associated rules/guidelines can be had on the Alberta Approved Farmers' Markets web site at this link.

    Other markets - this would mean public markets like the Crossroads Market or the Market on Macleod or flea markets like the Thorncliff/Greenview flea market. Not being an Alberta approved farmers' market isn't necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that the produce you are buying there could be out of Mexico or further. It also means that you could see flea market type of vendors selling all types of wares including cheap knock-off items or even garage sale type of items or even direct marketing booths (Avon as an example).

    Public or flea markets in Calgary would include...
    • Crossroads Market
    • Market on Macleod - formerly Kingsland Farmers' Market
    • Parkdale Community Association Farmers' Market
    • Rocky Ridge Farmers' Market
    • South Fish Creek Recreation Association Farmers' Market - this one may be defunct
    • Sunridge Farmers Market
    • Sweetgrass Market (West Hills) - unknown status
    • Symons Valley Ranch Farmers' Market
    • Triwood Farmers Market - not running in 2015
    • Thorncliffe/Greenview Community Farmers Market - unknown 2015 status

    I guess the thing to note is that if you are purchasing something from a vendor at one of the 5 Alberta approved farmers' markets in Calgary, then you can rest assured that the vendors and the market managers all have had to take food safety/preparation courses, that they all carry proper liability insurance and anything that is sold as a prepared food product would have had to been prepared in a commercial kitchen. The same can not be said of any public or flea market as they are not regulated and set their own standards - now none of this may be a big deal to many people but to some, it is very important.

    The biggest misconception many people have when they are at a market purchasing something is that they're supporting a local grower when in fact that bundle of asparagus could have very well been harvested in Mexico as opposed to southern Alberta - a vendor at a non-Alberta approved farmers' market does not necessarily have to inform you of the origin of the produce/products they are selling. Now I know there will be beyond members out there that scoff at the whole purchase/support local thing but it is a big deal to a certain subset of Calgary's population base and as such, I ask that you respect this post/thread for those that do like to purchase/support local.

    This thread's intent is only to inform people of the differences between the variety of markets out there within Calgary's boundaries and not to debate the ethics/values of purchasing/shopping locally. If you wish to have that debate, then could I ask that you create a new thread and have the debate there.
    Last edited by speedog; 06-05-2015 at 09:36 AM.

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    You mean the mangoes weren't grown in Sunnyside?????

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    Originally posted by suntan
    You mean the mangoes weren't grown in Sunnyside?????
    Sunridge Farmers Market is the best - selling the exact same branded exotic fruit that you could buy at Superstore down the road for less. Kudos for them though for preying upon the mindset of the people that shop there thinking they're getting something maybe a bit better even though it's more expensive when in reality it's the exact same item.

    The radishes I got this week from one vendor at the farmer's market my wife manages - definitely not the forced grown stuff you'll get at Safeway. More expensive, possibly but way tastier.

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    What about the Bearspaw Market on Sunday's? Almost, pretty much still in Calgary.

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    Originally posted by BlueHaloGirl
    What about the Bearspaw Market on Sunday's? Almost, pretty much still in Calgary.
    That's why I stated quite clearly within Calgary's boundaries. Bearspaw is an Alberta approved farmers' market as is Millarville, Okotoks, Cochrane, Crossfield and Strathmore. Airdrie and Chestermere are not.

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    Originally posted by speedog

    Sunridge Farmers Market is the best - selling the exact same branded exotic fruit that you could buy at Superstore down the road for less. Kudos for them though for preying upon the mindset of the people that shop there thinking they're getting something maybe a bit better even though it's more expensive when in reality it's the exact same item.

    The radishes I got this week from one vendor at the farmer's market my wife manages - definitely not the forced grown stuff you'll get at Safeway. More expensive, possibly but way tastier.
    I see it at CFM all the time though - Cherry Pit always has non-local produce.

    Also why does BC produce get a pass?

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    Originally posted by suntan
    I see it at CFM all the time though - Cherry Pit always has non-local produce.

    Also why does BC produce get a pass?
    BC produce does not get a pass for any market that is an Alberta approved farmers' market - the rule is 80% of the vendors have to make/bake/grow their product in Alberta.

    In the case of the Calgary Farmers Market, they have a lot of food vendors/kiosks there - it's almost like a food court that happens to have a farmers market in the vicinity. But all of those food vendors/kiosks make the product they're selling on-site and thus those vendors fall into the 80% which means it's quite easy for CFM to have large vegetable/fruit vendors that are not from Alberta.

    For seasonal markets, it's a bit more of a challenge to meet the 80% rules - some seasonal markets get around this by allowing in food trucks, hot dog or ice cream vendors which all make the end product they're selling on-site. In the case of the Grassroots Northland market, the 80% rule is even more difficult because the agreement with the mall (because of the food court) prevents any ready to eat food items to be sold at that market which means it's a market that really has to seek out Alberta made products because they can't rely upon food trucks and such to fluff up their 80%.

    Never the less, you'll still see BC fruit vendors at every approved market but the seasonal markets will have a greater variety of non-ready-to-eat-product Alberta based vendors than CFM plus the cost for a vendor to operate their business at a seasonal market is considerably less than what a small space will cost a vendor at CFM - CFM is probably 10 times the cost (if not more) of a similar sized stall at a seasonal outdoor market.

    As an example, the approved market that my wife manages has 11 produce vendors - 9 from Alberta and 2 from BC.. In comparison, CFM has 7 produce vendors of which 4 are from Alberta and 3 from BC..
    Last edited by speedog; 06-04-2015 at 05:41 PM.

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    Fantastic! I visit the Farmer's market 2-3x/month.

    I will have to check out others that you have listed.

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    Thanks for the info! I've been to a few flea markets but never a proper farmers market. Good to know where they are

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    Hey OP!!

    Your link for #5 goes to website for #4.

    I had heard that the one up at Symons Valley was ran by the same group? Interesting if thats not the case.

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    I got symons valley once and a while as it is very close and the fresh items seems to be good, usually from BC. Haven't looked too thoroughly though.

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    Originally posted by OU812
    Hey OP!!

    Your link for #5 goes to website for #4.

    I had heard that the one up at Symons Valley was ran by the same group? Interesting if thats not the case.
    Link fixed.

    As for ownership, I find it difficult to believe that CFM and Symons Valley Ranch are owned by the same group. CFM (Calgary Farmers Market) is an Alberta approved farmers market which means that they have to be sponsored by a not-for-profit community group, local Chamber of Commerce, municipality or agricultural society or forming their own not-for profit society under the Societies Act and operate under the direction of an advisory body or board of directors depending on the nature of the sponsoring body - this is from the FAQ page on the AFMA (Alberta Farmers' Market Association) web site.

    Symons Valley Ranch is for sure a private business and the associated market is not an Alberta approved market - thus why I find it difficult to believe that they are owned by the non-profit that runs CFM.

    Never the less, Symons Valley only has 4 or 5 produce vendors as best as I can tell and all appear to based out of Alberta - that's not to say that they're not getting produce from BC. Maybe just ask the vendors if they're actually growing the produce they sell or are they reselling some of it - as long as they don't misrepresent what they're selling then it's not a big deal. Of course, because this market doesn't have to meet the AFMA 80/20% rule, everything sold at this market could come from out of Alberta - deal breaker to some shoppers, not a big deal to others.

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    Symons Valley is not owned by the same group as CFM, it is a private company on private land revitalized over the past few years. They have done a great job of fixing up the property and actually have a really nice restaurant down below that used the products from the market. Personally I like the experience better there because it is not jam packed with people like CFM which is a nightmare on weekends. The anchor vendor at Symons Valley is Sunworks Farms, and they have a presence across Alberta at all farmers markets for the most part, as well as Planet Organic, Blush Lane and Community Natural Foods under the brand Prairie Roots Organic. There is no difference between what they are selling at any of the markets, it is mostly the produce that is imported from outside Alberta.

    Regardless of the local/non-local debate, I find any market experience very pleasant as you get to interact with the people in the company involved for the most part. You get education on product, people, etc. and that allows better engagement with how you spend your dollars.
    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
    -Thomas Jefferson 1802

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