A quick look at Spe­cial Ar­eas...

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Al­berta Agri­cul­ture

Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets are iden­ti­fi­able to the pub­lic by the Sun­ny­girl logo such as the one in Hanna. “We have more than 130 ap­proved mar­kets serv­ing about 110 com­mu­ni­ties around the prov­ince that are open through­out the sum­mer,” says Eileen Ko­towich, farm­ers’ mar­ket spe­cial­ist with Al­berta Agri­cul­ture and Forestry (AF). “This in­cludes more than 20 mar­kets that op­er­ate year round.”

She says Al­berta’s farm­ers’ mar­kets of­fer a di­verse se­lec­tion of goods.

“What you’ll see in the mar­kets right now are lots of green­house bed­ding plants and veg­eta­bles, early sea­son veg­eta­bles, and lots of pre­serves, bak­ing, pre­pared foods, and other year-round prod­ucts like meat, eggs and honey.”

Part of the suc­cess of farm­ers’ mar­kets is that con­sumers want to know where their food comes from and to make that con­nec­tion with the pro­duc­ers.

“It gives you a feel­ing of trust when you can look the pro­ducer in the eye and talk to them about how they raise their an­i­mals, grow their crops or pre­pare their ready-to-eat foods.”

A min­i­mum of 80% of venders’ prod­ucts must be pro­duced in Al­berta to qual­ify as an Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­ket.

The mar­kets will look a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this year as they in­cor­po­rate in­creased pro­to­cols and safety mea­sures into their op­er­a­tions in re­sponse to the COVID-19 pan­demic. Ven­dor stalls and ta­bles are sep­a­rated within the mar­ket, in­creased clean­ing and san­i­tiz­ing of high touch point sur­faces hap­pens dur­ing the mar­ket. Crowds will be asked to use one en­trance and exit so that crowd num­bers can be mon­i­tored to en­sure phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing. Cus­tomers are be­ing en­cour­aged to shop with pur­pose so that ev­ery­one who wants to at­tend a mar­ket has an op­por­tu­nity to sup­port their lo­cal mak­ers, bak­ers and grow­ers.

AF in­tro­duced a mo­bile app for both Ap­ple and An­droid de­vices a few years ago. This app al­lows users to eas­ily find any Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets in their area or around the prov­ince, search by day of the week or type of mar­ket.

“It is es­pe­cially im­por­tant this year that cus­tomers check the in­for­ma­tion on­line,” she ex­plains. “Some mar­kets have changed lo­ca­tion, hours of op­er­a­tion and open­ing dates for the sea­son in or­der to bet­ter im­ple­ment the in­creased safety mea­sures. A few mar­kets have de­cided to re­main closed for the sea­son. We are up­dat­ing the on­line in­for­ma­tion as we re­ceive it so that cus­tomers are not dis­ap­pointed.”

Over 130 Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets are serv­ing up some of the most nu­tri­tious, fresh, lo­cal prod­ucts. Along most high­ways in Al­berta, the Sun­ny­girl logo lets you know that there is an ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­ket nearby.

Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets pro­vide di­rect con­tact be­tween con­sumers and pro­duc­ers. Con­sumers can talk to the per­son that grew the car­rots, raised the chicken, baked the bread, pro­duced the jam or knit­ted the sweater. Each ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­ket in Al­berta is in­de­pen­dently op­er­ated and there­fore re­flects the cul­ture of the com­mu­nity.

Farm­ers’ mar­kets are a pop­u­lar agri­tourism at­trac­tion in Al­berta, pro­vid­ing a great shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence in a re­laxed, in­ter­ac­tive at­mos­phere. Shop­pers spend an av­er­age of $70 per farm­ers’ mar­ket visit and the to­tal es­ti­mated mar­ket value of farm­ers’ mar­kets was $924 mil­lion in 2016. The fu­ture for farm­ers’ mar­kets in Al­berta is very bright. Pro­gram re­quire­ments

An Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­ket is ap­proved by Al­berta Agri­cul­ture and Forestry and meets the re­quire­ments of the pro­gram guide­lines in­clud­ing:

• spon­sor­ship from 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

• op­er­at­ing un­der the di­rec­tion of an ad­vi­sory body or board of di­rec­tors

• at least 80% of ven­dors are Al­ber­tans who make, bake or grow the prod­ucts they sell; the re­main­ing 20% may sell prod­ucts that com­ple­ment the mar­ket mix

• op­er­ate for at least 10 days per year and for a min­i­mum of 2 hours per mar­ket day

• have at least one ven­dor meet­ing per year

• have de­vel­oped a set of rules which gov­ern the op­er­a­tion of the mar­ket, and pro­vide those to the Al­berta Ap­proved Farm­ers’ Mar­ket Pro­gram and all mar­ket ven­dors

• may not sell any used goods or flea mar­ket prod­ucts

• ad­here to the ad­min­is­tra­tive re­quire­ments of the pro­gram Ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets are rec­og­nized in Part 3 of the Al­berta Pub­lic Health Act Food Reg­u­la­tion.

Only Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets can use the of­fi­cial Sun­ny­girl mark and can make ar­range­ments to use the Sun­ny­girl logo on high­way sig­nage.

Visit www.sun­ny­girl.ca to down­load it or to view an in­ter­ac­tive map of Al­berta ap­proved farm­ers’ mar­kets.

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