Guelph Farmers’ Market: Refreshing Our Local Tradition

A man and woman shopping for produce

The Guelph Farmers’ Market is a dynamic, year-round public market and community cornerstone – the destination of choice for the best products Guelph-Wellington has to offer.

The Market represents a long-standing tradition for Guelph. It’s one way local farmers and producers can connect with customers sharing healthy, nutritious and affordable food and goods.

So far, we’ve engaged with vendors and customers to explore how we could update market policies and procedures to better meet the community’s needs. In 2019, we drafted the Guelph Farmers’ Market Business Plan to ensure the Market’s long-term success. This plan included a refreshed vision, mission and five goals.

Refreshed Vision

The Guelph Farmers’ Market is a dynamic, year-round public market and community cornerstone – the destination of choice for the best products Guelph-Wellington has to offer.

Refreshed Mission

The Guelph Farmers’ Market offers a diverse range of quality farm-fresh and local foods, unique art and craft and friendly personal service. A community cornerstone in the heart of Guelph since 1827, the Market supports the farmers and the economy of Guelph-Wellington while promoting sustainability and healthy living.

Goals

  1. Diverse range of quality local and farm-fresh foods, unique art and craft
  2. Friendly, personal service
  3. A community cornerstone in the heart of Guelph
  4. Support the farmers and the economy of Guelph-Wellington
  5. Promote sustainability and healthy living

City staff was intending on taking the draft plan to Council in 2020; however, due to the impacts COVID-19, this was put on hold.

The pause allows us a new opportunity. Together with the community and Our Food Future, we’re exploring how to increase the use of the Market building and grounds on other days of the week.

We value the Guelph Farmers’ Market and are looking for ways to maintain this important community asset and increase its economic and social viability. This is where we could use your help. We’re looking to strengthen and expand the community that uses the Market building and grounds by putting out a call for new, innovative ideas, proposals and potential partnerships.

This past year, Guelph-Wellington’s Our Food Future initiative has shown us how innovative and strategic partnership can bring us closer to creating Canada’s first circular food economy. Combining the Our Food Future approach and values with the success of the Saturday farmers’ market holds tremendous potential for us to collectively support local businesses and the downtown on multiple days of the week.

Important: The City may or may not move forward for any proposal or partnership in making a final recommendation to Council on the future of the Guelph Farmers’ Market. The City is committed to the on-going success of the Guelph Farmers’ Market.

Background

In 2017, staff began a review of the Market’s bylaw, policies, and regulations to reflect the community’s vision of the market. Staff established a project team and engaged a public and farmers’ market consultant. In 2018, staff initiated a two-year consultative process entitled Refreshing Our Local Tradition. Public consultation demonstrated that the Saturday farmers’ market is a success; however, the community aspires for it to be much more.

With the input of vendors and shoppers, the Market’s vision and mission were reviewed, and five goals were being developed into a draft business plan in 2019 to ensure the Market’s long-term success.

The plan also identified the challenge for the City to make it operationally and financially viable when it is only open for 5 hours on 52 days a year.

What we know about the people who shop at the Market

Who shops at the market?

  • 78% of shoppers are local residents
  • 83% live under 15 minutes away from the market

How long have they been coming to the market?

  • 51% have been coming to the market for one to 10 years
  • 20% have been coming to the market for 10 to 20 years
  • 13% have been coming to the market for 20-30 years
  • 9% have been coming to the market for 30-40 years
  • 7% have been coming to the market for 40 or more years

How shoppers get to the market?

  • 63% drive to the market
  • 26% walk to the market
  • 8% use public transit to get to the market
  • 3% bike to the market

What shoppers buy at the market?

  • 93% say it’s important to buy fruit and vegetables directly from the farmer that grew them
  • 23% come to the market to buy fresh food
  • 21% come to the market to support local farmers
  • 15% come to the market to buy local food

The Market journey

Refreshing Our Local Tradition (Phase 1 – Development: 2018-2020)

  • Research and engagement (fall 2018 to spring 2019)
  • Development of the draft policies and procedures (spring 2019)
  • Engagement on the draft policies and procedures (fall 2019)
  • Report to Council (2020)
    • Due to COVID-19, a report was not taken to Council.

Refreshing Our Local Tradition (Phase 2 – Implementation: 2021)

Resources

For more information

Matthew Hardy Thomas, Manager of Tourism and Destination Development
Business Development and Enterprise
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2533
[email protected]