Farmers Market Impact Toolkit

Vancity Community Foundation and the BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) have collaborated on the development of a Farmers Market Impact Toolkit that gives farmers market managers the means to collect, analyze and communicate the value that their farmers markets bring to their communities.


The following is a preview of the Farmers’ Market Impact Toolkit.  For complete toolkit materials, please download the files on the left.



Table of Contents

Introduction: “How is a Farmers’ Market Different From a Supermarket?”

How the Toolkit Works

Project Structure

Snapshot Impact Areas


Process Overview

  1. Strategy/Planning
  2. Survey Administration
  3. Data File Data Collection
  4. Snapshot Creation


Supporting Materials (Download here)

Process Flow Diagram (.pdf)

Project Evolution Summary (.pdf)


Introduction: “How is a Farmers’ Market Different Than a Supermarket?”


The Farmers’ Market Impact Toolkit makes it easier for farmers’ markets to demonstrate the difference they make in their communities. By using guided measurement tools and templates, market managers can create a Performance Snapshot that tells a powerful story supported by numbers and facts.

For market managers and boards, the Snapshot offers:

  • Opportunities to track successes, establish continuity, and improve operations
  • Information to identify strategies for growth or opportunities for collaboration
  • Powerful communication tools to enable better support from customers, community leaders, investors, policy makers, media, and local businesses

For market vendors, the Snapshot offers:

  • Clear statement of the benefits of participating in a farmers’ market
  • A clear picture of how they contribute to a sustainable local food system
  • A tool to allow market managers to advocate on their behalf for strengthened local economies and food systems

These are some examples of information the Toolkit can help you show:

  • The market’s role in boosting local employment and economic resilience
  • Market inclusion in regional agricultural and economic development plans
  • How customers value biodiversity, market community, vendor relationships, and local economic impact
  • Customer loyalty and vendor motivations for market participation
  • Regional food security and the market’s impact on regional agricultural production
  • The market as a community hub and business incubator
  • Market relationships with local businesses and partner organizations


How the Toolkit Works


The Toolkit has three parts:

  1. Surveys of customers, vendors, market management, and external market stakeholders
  2. data file to collect and interpret survey data
  3. Snapshot templates to help create documents that easily communicate survey results

The tools are flexible and meant to be tailored to individual markets’ desires and abilities.  If multiple markets implement the toolkit, market measures can be used to support region-wide aggregation and market comparison (where possible and desired).



Project Structure


Development of the Toolkit was informed by a pilot test with 20 farmers’ markets of different sizes in different regions of British Columbia, Canada, in the summer of 2012. Their feedback about what worked and what didn’t helped create practical tools that are suitable, in terms of time commitment and skills required, for both new and mature markets. The information presented in the Market Snapshot is a reflection of the interests and concerns of a broad range of market stakeholders that the project managers consulted over the course of the toolkit development.

The Farmers’ Market Impact Toolkit project was developed by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) and the Demonstrating Value program at Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) as one part of a larger Community Impact Project grant from Vancity Credit Union to develop practical tools for organizations to evaluate and communicate their social, economic and ecological impacts.


Snapshot Impact Areas


The toolkit measures and communicates market impact across four related outcomes:


Local Economic Impact:

  • How does the market contribute to small business incubation and local economic growth?
  • How does the market complement, or compete with, local business?
  • What are the market’s direct economic effects?
  • How does the market develop the social economy?


Community Building:

  • How is the market a community hub?
  • What kinds of relationships does the market develop between participants?
  • Does it contribute to civic engagement and building resilient communities?


Food Security and Ecosystem Health:

  • How does the market encourage sustainable and responsible agricultural practices?
  • Does the market contribute to protecting biodiversity?
  • How does the market promote local land cultivation and stable food production?


Market Operations:

  • What is the state of the market’s operational strength, community engagement, and financial sustainability?
  • How does the market compare to other markets in the province, and to past years of operation?


Process Overview


The process should be guided by the ebbs and flows of the market season

Planning and Strategy should be mostly completed before the market starts, so as not to conflict with market operational demands.  (Estimated time required: 45hrs)

  • Materials can be downloaded from the Demonstrating Value website, and markets can adapt them as necessary.
  • Questions on the survey materials in bold are core questions. This allows markets with less time and capacity to simplify data colleciton.
  • Choose a volunteer team available on market days to help complete customer surveys and create the snapshot.


Survey Implementation varies by survey type:

  • Customer surveys should be completed on a few days throughout the season, to get a representative selection of customer trends in various growing seasons. This includes paper surveys completed in person, as well as dot surveys and attendance counts guided by Oregon State University’s Tools for Rapid Market Assessment. (Estimated time required by market: 5 hrs per market day, recommended 3 market days. Customer time required: 7 min.)
    • There are numerous qualitative, “short answer” questions in the survey. Be creative asking these questions to customers who may not be completing the entire survey on market days. An excellent story is not needed from everyone; the highlights will be key, however, to the success of the snapshot in telling a compelling story.
  • Vendor surveys should mostly be completed at the end of the market season, as the growing season comes to a close for farmer vendors, but when market management still has contact with vendors. For part-season vendors, plan to collect a few surveys at other points earlier during the summer.  (Estimated time required by market management: 2 hrs. Vendor time required: 15 min. per survey.)
    • The vendor surveys have three parts: The first is for all vendors, the second is for food vendors, and the third is for farmers only.
    • Remember: Vague answers are not bad; in fact, they are useful because an associative answer can make connections to the value related to the farmers’ market.
    • There are multiple options for survey administration methods. Ensuring confidentiality of responses is critical. The User Guide contains helpful hints to gain vendor buy-in and quality participation, and methods to ensure internal and external confidentiality.
  • External Stakeholder surveys may be completed at any time, since these respondents depend much less on the market schedule for their investment. (Estimated time required: 2 hrs. Respondent time required: under 5 min.)
    • Methods for administration may vary; online, in person, and by email are all perfectly acceptable.
  • Manager and Project Lead surveys should be completed as time becomes available. Early market season is a good starting point, to determine what information needs to be collected as the market season unfolds, and to have an understanding of what stories and opportunities may emerge throughout the summer. Completing these surveys at the end of the season is best. (Estimated time required: 2 hrs)
    • Engage the market board, staff, and regular market volunteers in qualitative responses.
    • Consider collecting photos from archives, and taking new photos, of volunteer engagement, special events, or other market community experiences.


Data File Data Collection may happen any time after surveys are completed – either all at once or as individual surveys are submitted. (Estimated time required: 20 hrs)

  • Data file tabs are organized by survey type, and color coded. Each survey type has a Data tab for data entry, and an Aggregation tab where data is automatically collected and visualized, to be copied easily into the snapshot.


Snapshot Creation can happen as desired after data has been collected. Markets can use snapshots in numerous ways, so multiple snapshots with different indicators are likely appropriate. (Estimated time required: 15 hours, or more for additional snapshots)

  • The Performance Snapshot templates have been created in Microsoft Word to automatically link to Excel objects. The formation of snapshots and presentation of toolkit materials is completely flexible. If your market has the capacity and desire to use different software or communication methods, you are encouraged to use them.
  • Charts can be linked automatically, but text – including extracted data highlights – must be input manually. This will likely involve some adjustment of text and page layout.




Toolkit authors:

  • Annie Lambla – Toolkit Pilot Project Coordinator, Vancity Community Foundation
  • Garth Yule – Manager, Demonstrating Value, Vancity Community Foundation (2012)
  • Bryn Sadownik – Manager, Demonstrating Value, Vancity Community Foundation

Advisory Committee:

  • Dr. David Connell, UNBC
  • Elizabeth Quinn, BC Association of Farmers Markets
  • Andrea Harris, Vancity Credit Union
  • Moira Teevan, Vancity Credit Union

Special Thanks to:

  • Georgia Stanley, BC Association of Farmers Markets
  • Alexandra Tudose, Haney Market Society
  • Camille Narayan, Vancity Community Foundation

Participants in the pilot study:

  • Eileen Dwillies, Haney Market Soceity
  • Helen Fathers, White Rock Market Society
  • Roberta LaQuaglia, Vancouver Farmers’ Markets
  • Vickey Brown, Comox Valley Farmers’ Market
  • Rob Borsato, Quesnel Farmers’ Market
  • Tamara Movold, Creston Valley Farmers’ Market
  • Carolyn Morris, Squamish Farmers’ Market Association
  • Jacquie Harkema, Salt Spring Island Tuesday Market, Island Natural Growers
  • Tabitha McLoughlin, Coquitlam Farmers’ Market Society
  • Kyle Goulet, Moss Street Community Market, Fairfield Market Society (Victoria)


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Contact us with any questions:  Bryn Sadownik - - 604-877-7646