Farmers' markets in Southwestern Ontario: Community-level understandings of local food, farming and direct-purchasing
This research investigates the role of local food and direct-food marketing in linking farm and community interests. The focus is on farmers' markets as venues for direct-food marketing and an opportunity for linking farm and community interests. The research involves interviews with market managers, food vendors and food purchasers and explores community-level understandings of local food, farming and direct-purchasing at a representative selection of five farmers' markets. The findings suggest that food origin, locality and socio-economic interactions play an important role in linking farm and community interests, while methods of food production at the farm-level remain largely in the background. The research provides insights with regard to customer purchasing habits, expectations and beliefs at the farmers' market. Farmers' markets in southwestern Ontario play an important role as a means of employment for farmers, as well as supplying word-of-mouth advertising for other venues. Proportional grocery expenditures at farmers' markets tend to be much lower than that of supermarkets, although direct contact between farm and non-farm groups may foster social capital that is embedded in economic exchange and possibly into the wider community realm.