Members of the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets meet Friday to Sunday.

Members of the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets meet Friday to Sunday.

Farmers markets tackle key issues

The B.C. Association of Farmers Markets’ annual conference is set for Kelowna

Farmers market enthusiasts will gather in the Okanagan from Friday to Sunday for the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets’ annual conference.

More than 100 market organizers, farmers, artisans, and community leaders from across B.C. will gather at Kelowna’s Delta Grand Okanagan Resort to explore how healthy farmers markets can support healthy communities in the coming season.

“Many of our 125 member markets are extending their reach beyond the market, to serve as community hubs where issues of healthy eating, food supply security and sustainability can be tackled,” said Elizabeth Quinn, BCAFM executive director.

“Farmers markets, big and small, support healthy local economies, by bolstering small business development and keeping dollars within the community. In the past year, farmers markets sales have increased by 11 per cent in B.C.”

Farmers markets inject nearly $170 million annually to B.C.’s economy, according to a 2012 social and economic benefits study by the BCAFM and Dr. David Connell of the University of Northern B.C.

More than 15 events and workshops at the conference will be led by health and food experts on food waste reduction, farm land protection and food safety.

Speakers will include Connell, Shauna MacKinnon, from the Canada Organic Trade Association, and representatives from the Interior Health Authority, the Kamloops Food Policy Council, and the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council.

The event will include the third annual Farmers Market Awards, which celebrates those who have made contributions to B.C.’s farmers market sector.

The top farmers markets, market manager and vendor of 2015 will be honoured at a banquet dinner and awards ceremony, featuring locally sourced food and drink, Saturday at Sandhill Winery.

The BCAFM’s mission is to develop, promote and strengthen the capacity of farmers markets. Visit www.bcfarmersmarket.org for more information.