Friday, 26 August 2011

Make It. Bake It. Grow It: Building an Alberta Approved Market

We all know that Farmers' Markets are becoming increasingly popular.  The total number of markets across the province has exploded in recent years and there are now several dozen all over the City.  In fact, farmers' markets are the number one Alberta Agriculture tourist attraction! More than just shopping, markets provide a community experience with a focus on sustainable and healthy living practices for all!

But, did you know that not all Albertan are alike? Many markets, such as the Southwest Edmonton Farmers' Market, have gone the extra mile to make sure that our values and practices reflect the real vision goals of community and economic development of our Province. These markets have gone through a thorough application and certification process through the Ministry of Agriculture and have earned the title of "Alberta Approved".  You can recognize us by looking for the "Alberta Sunny Girl" logo:

An Alberta Approved Farmers' Market must:
  1. Operate on a not-for-profit basis.  This means that all monies generated by the market must be reinvested into the market every year.  Markets are run either by not-for-profit organizations or by a committee incorporated under the  Societies Act or the Cooperatives Act.   
  2. Have proof of inspection and approval by Alberta Health Services.  This includes having a manager who is trained in Food Safety and can ensure that all products being sold are safe for distribution. 
  3. Have a manager who has successfully passed the Farmers' Market Manager Training program. 
  4. Show proof of liability insurance in the event that there is a problem that arises at the market. 
  5. Follow the protocols of the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of the market vendors (or more) must sell a product that they (or their immediately staff and/or family member) have made, baked, or grown in Alberta. The remaining 20% of the vendors can be from out of province, resale and/or commercial products. 

Why is it important to be Alberta Approved? 

Getting Alberta Approved status is a time consuming project. It requires research, transparency and a genuine commitment to ensuring that the market in question is compliant with all regulations.  

When shopping at an Alberta Approved location, you can be sure of the following:
  1. The site and products meet all the health and safety regulations of the province.
  2. The majority of the products/vendors are Alberta grown, made or manufactured and that those that are not will be clearly identified. 
  3. That the organizers and employees are part of a not-for-proft group dedicated to building their community and creating a sustainable local economy. 
  4. That there is a trained point-person (Manager, Board member or other designated representative) accountable for ensuring that all the rules and regulations are consistently followed. 
Choosing an Alberta Approved market is making the choice to prioritize your community, your City, and your province.  When you shop at Alberta Approved markets, you can rest assured that you are taking part in an initiative that is grounded in healthy, sustainable, local living. 

After all, the Sunny Girl says so!

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