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Economic impact of South Cariboo Farmers’ Market assessed

Market-goers were asked a series of questions about the market
Mandy Drescher of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) was in town on Friday (Aug.18) doing a survey at the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market. (Fiona Grisswell photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) was in town on Friday (Aug. 18) doing a survey at the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market.

Mandy Drescher of the BCAFM said the purpose of the study is to evaluate the economic impact of a market on a community.

The survey is simple. There are five boards with each one asking a different question. The first four questions are asked at every market: Are you a tourist? How much do you plan to spend including coupons? How often do you visit the market? When did you start shopping at the market? If you plan to do shopping or eating in that area of town how much do you plan to spend?

The individual places a coloured sticker under their choice. The colour does not matter except for yellow which indicates the person is a tourist.

“We do a crowd count. We have a tally of how many people are coming in and we take the average sale and we do the math and we come out with an economic impact for a market in a community,” she said. “One way in which the information can be used is if a market is in negotiations with a municipality or a Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps they think the market would be better suited out of town.

“This gives us an opportunity to say like ‘actually this is the dollar value we bring in and on average, this person is spending this and on average, in businesses around the market this is what we’re spending.”

They also look for areas of improvement.

Once she is done at the market, Drescher said she goes and talks to businesses in the area and lets them fill out a survey giving them a chance to say how the market affects them.

It all remains anonymous. If they do have something that needs to be said that is an area for improvement Drescher welcomes it noting they’re not just looking for sunshine and rainbows. In all the surveys she has done, she has only ever gotten one negative survey.

The fifth question is chosen by the market. In the case of 100 Mile House, the question was: How did you get to the market? The board indicated that most people drove their vehicles.

Drescher said several times throughout the day she was told that parking was an issue. She believes the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market could use the results of this survey to address additional parking for future markets.

“What could we do, because look what we have and look at what we’re bringing in,” she said, indicating the boards. “This many regular customers, spending this much and have been coming for more than ten years.”

Drescher is also the regional coordinator for the farmers’ market coupon program. “So, for me, this is doubly important. Because if we can show the value that we’re bringing to a community and we can get more and more and more communities we use this for grant applications for funding and like all sorts of things, better access, that’s only going to help their participants for the coupon program,” she said. “Which is going to have a huge impact on health, it’s a huge impact on food security.”

This year they will be visiting 70 markets over the course of the summer.

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Fiona Grisswell

About the Author: Fiona Grisswell

I graduated from the Writing and New Media Program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George in 2004.
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