Recent trends in consumption indicate a growing demand for fresh and local food. This is particularly true in urban settings where access to local food is more difficult. Meanwhile, local farmers, bakers and other producers are feeling increased pressure to participate in the expanding number of farmers markets, while balancing the need to be on the farm and maintain their businesses. Pocket markets can help satisfy both the producer and the consumer by creating new avenues for distribution, and broadening access to fresh, local food within the community!
What is a Pocket Market?
Pocket Markets are temporary local food markets that sell directly to the pubic on behalf of local food vendors.
They tend to be much smaller than traditional farmers’ markets – hence the “pocket”, allowing them to locate in high volume areas, such as workplaces and other institutions. This helps make fresh, local food more accessible to the consumer, and ultimately helps to nurture the local food movement!
Advantages for the Vendor
This model is beneficial to the vendor as it allows them to sell a large quantity of product without having to incur the time and financial costs of being at a market.
Products are purchased directly from the vendor at a wholesale price and then sold at the market at the same retail price the vendor would normally charge. This method guarantees the farmers (or baker) a sale, while reducing the burden on resources.
Pocket market staff works with the vendor to determine the most efficient means of receiving their product, either by coordinating with the vendors regular delivery route schedule, picking up at the farm, or connecting with the farmer at a market.
Although pocket markets lack the direct connection between producer and consumer, they strive to emulate that connection by displaying information about each vendor at market. This can be done through vendor profiles, which show where the food comes from, how it is grown (or made) and who produced it. Education and building consumer awareness are integral parts of pocket markets, so in addition to vendor profiles, information posters and pamphlets litter the tables, and pocket market staff are always at hand to answer questions. Education is essential as it can help create informed consumers, at the pocket market and outside of it.
How can farmers partner with pocket markets?
Each pocket market may have different requirements for membership. For the Coquitlam Farmers Market Society of Coquitlam, B.C., the overarching prerequisites are fairly simple – the product must be made, baked, or grown locally.
If your product fits into one of those categories, it is likely you can take part, but the suitability of your product will ultimately be at the absolute discretion of the pocket market and must meet various health and food safe guidelines. Lastly, farmers are encouraged to explain to the pocket market staff exactly what agricultural practices they follow to ensure the most accurate information is relayed to the consumer.
Pocket markets play an important role in supporting the production and distribution of local food. The markets help bridge the gap for local farmers, urban backyard growers and local food eaters by providing an alternative market format that adds to the current make-up of the farmer’s market world.