If you’re interested in understanding your customers, testing new products and connecting with other food businesses, the Vancouver Farmers Market (VFM) is the place to be.
We’ve summarized a few resources from VFM to help get you started for the coming season.
Becoming a Vendor
Before you get started, please head to the Become a Vendor section of the VFM website. It has all the info you need to get started at VFM.
Your first step is expressing interest in becoming a market vendor, and filling out their Prepared Food Vendor Interest Form which goes to our vendor recruiter, and there the form is reviewed with the VFM to determine market fit.
Fit all depends on aspects like market demand, availability of products, and other factors. This process could take some time, depending on the number of forms submitted and market needs. During this time, feel free to Review the Are You Ready documents and Vendor Handbook, and contact Vancouver Coastal Health to start the permit process.
Next, anyone who wants to join a farmers market must choose a category based on your products. Commissary kitchen members typically fall into two categories: “Prepared Food” such as sourdough, sauces, jams, and dumplings or “Food Trucks and Beverage Service”.
If we have space for your product, we will contact you and invite you to Jury. All prepared food vendors must pass a food jury before being invited to apply. Please note that due to the number of applications we receive weekly, we can only contact applicants under consideration.
If approved you’ll move onto the approval phase of the process. Here are some quick details below:
In keeping with their mission to create a “local and sustainable marketplace”, there are parameters on what can be sold at the farmers market. In addition to VCH guidelines, vendors must follow the guidelines set forth by the Vancouver Farmers Market which vary depending on the type of product you sell.
Generally, “only approved products that are made, baked, grown, raised, caught or wild harvested by the vendor can be sold, displayed or advertised at VFM markets. “ The Vendor Handbook also details the following:
For an example of which products have been approved or other vendors that may sell similar products like yours - this is a directory of all vendors and products across every single market.
Farmers Market Member Application
Once your application is approved, an email will be sent confirming your membership and an invoice with your annual fee. For more information on how to pay this fee, click here.)
The Vancouver Farmers Market uses www.managemymarket.com as a central hub to upload any relevant documents, certifications and product lists. Most importantly, it includes a calendar function to apply for any seasonal markets.
Seasonal Market Application
To be clear, there are two applications. The first is your annual membership: this is to become a member of the Vancouver Farmers Market. The second is to reserve a stall at a market to sell your products.
As we mentioned, booking your stall is accessible through the www.managemymarket.com website’s calendar option. Applications for seasonal markets are open year-round, but the target intake for the summer months is March/April, while for the winter season, is September/October.
For more information on how to submit your payment for the annual and seasonal fee, as well as other documentation you may need based on your category, click here.
Once everything is ready and approved, you’ll have to gear up for your first day at the market!
Setting up and tearing down
The day has finally arrived, and you are ready to sell! Most of the details of setting up your stall are specific to your location and category. This will either be outlined in your “Are You Ready” document or detailed by your market manager.
However, the following is a general summary of do’s and dont’s from the Vendor Handbook.
Vendor parking is arranged differently for each market, but should be clarified via your site-specific “Market Setup Details”.
Remove the violators’ vehicles from the market site at least 30 minutes before the market opens.
Also, all canopies or umbrellas are required to have 25lb weights, and all stall setups must abide by general VCH guidelines.
Stalls are required to remain assembled until the market ends, regardless of the product being sold.
Vendors are required to clean their areas, and dispose of any waste or are subject to a $50 fine.
Following the closing bell, all sales activity must end within 10 minutes, and all equipment torn down by 60 minutes.
Vehicles may enter no sooner than 20 minutes after the closing bell.
All food must be stored at a minimum of 6” off the ground.
Lastly! If for any reason you need to cancel a farmers market, here are a few things to keep in mind. For the first two cancellations, you will be given a 50% refund with a minimum 72-hour notice prior to your market date. You will not be given a refund for anything more than two cancellations or notice less than 72 hours.
Emergencies do come up, so call the office if you’re unable to attend a market on the day. If you don’t alert the manager, it’s considered a no-show, and potentially subject to a $50 fine. Similar to Coho Collective, the mission of the Vancouver Farmers Market is built on creating community and supporting local businesses. Joining the Vancouver Farmers Market allows you to not only build real relationships with customers that care about local products, but it comes with several intangible benefits to your business.
As you might know, entrepreneurship can be a lonely road. The ability to connect with other businesses with similar goals and build your own community is invaluable. Outside of the seasonal markets, if you’re interested in being a part of a community of over 150 plus food businesses throughout BC.