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ICYMI: Squamish Farmers' Market draws in millions of dollars: Study

The popular market has been leaning into local produce to entice locals to return every week.
The Squamish Farmers' Market on Saturday, March 30. A study says the market contributes millions to the local economy.

The Squamish Farmers’ Market contributes $7.5 million to the local economy on an annual basis according to a study by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets and the University of Northern British Columbia.

The study was done in 2023 as part of a province-wide study into farmers’ markets across British Columbia to measure their economic impact on surrounding communities.

By the numbers, the Squamish portion of the study calculated that visitors to the market spent over $5 million annually–with that number extrapolated from the number of attendees on the day of the survey (3,305), the average spend of each attendee surveyed (recorded to be $46.13) across the 41 weeks the market operates.

Combined with an assessed 1.5 multiplier—being that for every dollar spent at the market, another 50 cents is spent at a surrounding businesses—the well-established Squamish Farmers’ Market was found to draw in $7.5 million.

Market manager, Megan Verge, told The Squamish Chief that the local market strove to be a market that provided staples for the community and supported local producers.

“We want people to come and get their weekly staples–their bread, eggs, veggies. Especially with the way supermarket prices have gone, there are some things that are comparable now where before, the farmers' market was seen as high end and luxury,” she said.

“Stuff that is grown in-season, locally is always going to be cheaper,” she said. “When they are in season, they are affordable and better for you, there’s less travel associated with them so it's better for the climate, it's helping our economy within Squamish and our growing region, and bringing more money back to the farmers' market and the small businesses around us.”

Verge said a major push by the market over the last few years and into the future was to educate locals–both new and old–that the Sea to Sky Corridor produces a lot of food right here, that local food could be cheaper than produce in larger supermarkets, and that the market provided access to the producers themselves.

“It’s educational; we’re trying to really push food awareness and where it comes from.”

To that, the local market hosts farmers, meat producers, beekeepers, bakers and more.

The data from the study also found that the clientele of the Squamish market is very local—only 16% of attendees identified themselves as being from outside the Sea to Sky Corridor, while 32% had been coming for over five years.

“We are really proud that locals support us and have changed and adapted with us through COVID times,” said Verge.

Support has been growing over the years–2024 is the 21st year of the Squamish Farmers’ Market, and Verge said that it was booked out with vendors more and more, with an expansion in operating dates from mid-April to December, to February to December—increasing to 43 weekends through the year.

“Post COVID we were seeing our market sellout for the obvious months—June to August—but now this year we’ve sold out all of our dates from May to thanksgiving weekend. The demand has really stepped up.”

Looking ahead beyond 2024, Verge said that the market was popular in its current downtown location, so they were hoping to lean into that while continuing to work on encouraging local farmers and producers to be vendors while maintaining a varied rotation of vendors each week to keep locals engaged.

“We love that the market is downtown, and we want to keep it growing. Our feedback is we have a lot of amazing vendors, but not a huge amount of space to contain everyone. So, more space would be great; we’re working on trying to extend our footprint and see how we can support more people but make it a more pleasant atmosphere for shopping … We want to Improve the experience and carry on cultivating the community focus we have and working with other local organizations.”

From April 6 through to Dec.14, 2024, the Squamish Farmers’ Market will be at Junction Park on Cleveland Avenue and Victoria Street every Saturday.

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