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FMAM Makes Plans For New Year

“We’ve had nine new markets join us in the last year. It’s exciting that people want to join us and keep this movement growing.”

– FMAM BOARD MEMBER DAVE KOSLOWSKY

Farmers’ market vendors and co-ordinators in Manitoba want their provincial association to keep pursuing a coupon project to make farmers’ markets more accessible to Manitobans on low incomes.

The idea of having weekly coupons distributed through the Healthy Start program has been proposed to government, said FMAM executive director.

“We were hoping to start it last year but the funding didn’t come through,” said Dianna Mae Hocaluk in an interview following FMAM’s third annual general meeting Nov. 28.

FMAM views the coupon project as a win-win for all involved, by both increasing traffic at markets while making access to fresh homegrown food more widely available to all Manitobans, she said.

Other ideas proposed at FMAM’s meeting include exploring development of a program that verifies foods sold at markets are sellers’ own production, and not production being resold. Vendors also want buy local programs in place promoting Manitoba-grown foods, and more training for market co-ordinators.

Member markets are also deciding now what projects to submit to FMAM for funding through a $450,000 federal grant through the Community Adjus tment Fund (CAF)

announced at the meeting. The money, which is coming from the federal stimulus program, Canada’s Economic Action Plan, will help markets upgrade their site infrastructure with new shelters, signage and other upgrades.

“There’s not a lot of money to be able to put toward luxuries such as infrastructure, so we’re just ecstatic about this,” Hocaluk said. FMAM will take proposals first from its own member markets, then review proposals from other non-FMAM member markets for site improvements. There are just over 50 known markets operating in Manitoba. FMAM’s represents 26 member markets.

2009 was a good year overall for the farmers’ market association, said Killarney-area FMAM board member Dave Koslowsky.

More markets are joining FMAM because they see the merits of a provincial association speaking with one voice on the needs and interests of member markets, he said.

“We’ve had nine new markets join us in the last year. It’s exciting that people want to join us and keep this movement growing.”

The lifting of a 14-day restriction on markets allowing them to open as often as they wish was a major highlight for 2009, he added. In June, Manitoba Agriculture and Manitoba Health and Healthy Living jointly announced the change to the new Temporary Food Market Guidelines in recognition of growing interest in shopping at local markets.

The farmers’ market association was incorporated as a cooperative in 2006 to serve as an advocate of the interest of farmers’ markets to both government and private industry.

In its Dec. 1 throne speech the provincial government indicated plans to extend support for farmers’ markets in Manitoba as well as a buy-local program for Manitoba food.

At present, the provincial farmers’ market association’s operational funding comes from Heifer International Canada, a branch of Heifer International, a U. S. non-profit charitable organization supporting grassroots farm groups around the world.

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About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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