About the Farmers Market
The Vancouver Farmers Markets community is made up of a diverse community of farmers, fishers, food preparers, artisans and more. Every vendor makes, bakes or grows what they bring to market. Founded in 1995 as a non-profit society, Vancouver Farmers Markets (VFM) has grown to become one of Canada’s leading farmers market organizations with nine weekly markets, almost 500,000 shoppers per year, and annual vendor sales over $13.8 million. They also help families living with low income access fresh, healthy food from our vendors through the Fresh to Families Project.
If you’re looking to get your business into new markets, consider your local farmer’s market scene. We spoke to 4 of our Coho Commissary members who are both new to and seasoned experts at the markets, on the tips and tricks they’d give to anyone considering joining the Vancouver Farmer’s Market. Read on for some inspiration and more reasons why you should join!
brEAThe Kitchen is committed to providing ethical food choices that are nourishing for you and sustainable for our planet. Owner Daphna makes vegan pies and quiches out of Coho Powell, which has helped her scale up her productions and meet the demand of busy market days on top of her online orders.
When we asked Daphna for tips for anyone new to the Vancouver Farmer’s Market scene, she explained how “it's a great place to be to meet your customers - engage with them and listen to their feedback.” Becoming a part of the farmer's market community offers a unique and invaluable opportunity to connect directly with your customers. Engaging in meaningful conversations with customers not only fosters a sense of trust and loyalty but also allows you to gain firsthand insights into their preferences and suggestions. By actively listening to your customers, you can tailor your products to better align with their needs.
Network with other businesses
Casa de Nata is a family business, specializing in authentic Portuguese Custard Tarts and other street food. Stephanie and Jeremiah opened their business in 2020 to share their family traditions and love of their Portuguese recipes with the community. Working out of Coho Powell, they have enjoyed being a part of a diverse community of foodpreneurs and the flexibility of being able to grow their business while also growing their family.
Stephanie has not only found friends in Coho’s kitchens, but has also found community amongst the Vancouver Farmers Markets' 250+ food vendors. For anyone new to the farmers markets, Stephanie advised “to have fun and have patience with the process! GO to the markets and do some research, and speak to other vendors who are open to sharing their process.”
By striking up conversations with seasoned vendors, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge about market dynamics, marketing strategies, and customer preferences. This exchange of information not only enhances your understanding of how to succeed at the market, but also cultivates relationships that can hopefully become collaborative partnerships!
Expand your customer base
Crack On is on a mission to make the best gourmet sandwiches with a very special ingredient, the egg. They prep all their ingredients out of Coho East Georgia, including their naturally smoked and thick-cut bacon which is now available for you to buy on its own.
The Vancouver Farmers Market currently has 8 different locations for their markets throughout Vancouver, including Riley Park, Trout Lake, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Downtown, False Creek, West End, and Hastings Park. The bustling ambiance and diverse foot traffic in each neighbourhood provides a great opportunity to amplify your visibility with new customers.
Crack On Owner Mark explained that the “Vancouver farmers markets are the best farmers markets in Vancouver. They attract so many people from across the city and give you the opportunity to showcase your products. It's also a great place to meet other small businesses from all over Vancouver.”
Try new sales channels
Oh Yas! Goodies makes handmade, artisanal gluten-free and vegan donuts & donut ice cream sandwiches. Owner Cheryl prepares her donuts out of Coho Pandora’s Gluten-Free space, centrally located in East Vancouver. They joined a commissary after hearing about the Coho Community and found it to be a great solution to work out of a commercial space without a hefty upfront cost!
Joining the Vancouver Farmer’s Markets provided Cheryl with a new sales channel to explore and assess the viability of their products. “Our advice to new folks [to the farmer's markets] is to give everything a try and see what works for you! And of course, never give up hope!” The farmers market scene brings a lot of foot traffic. Do what you can to stand out from the crowd, offer free samples, experiment with sales techniques, and the results will come.
Joining the farmer's market is more than a transactional experience; it's a conduit for forging connections, fostering mutual understanding, and continuously improving your offerings through a dynamic cycle of communication and adaptation.
The next round of intakes for the Vancouver Farmer’s Markets is coming up! Vendor Interest Form submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis throughout the season, with target intake months in March/April for summer markets and September/October for the winter seasons.
If you are a small maker or baker looking to sell prepared food, the Vancouver Farmer’s Markets is currently on the hunt for sourdough bakers, jams & preserves, and beverages. Products must be made by yourself, and bonus points if you use ingredients from local farmers! They are also on the hunt for food trucks and food service vendors that can operate in a 10x10 tent to provide the freshest, fun, and flavourful market fare, with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients.
Head to the Vancouver Farmer’s Markets website to see which category your food business fits into, and submit your Vendor Interest Form today!