OMAFRA letter confirms farmers’ markets are essential and that non-food items can be sold in markets that primarily sell food

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Author: Josie Di Felice

Posted: June 9, 2020

Categories: Food in the News / GoodFoodBites / News from Sustain Ontario

Over the last month, Sustain Ontario and Farmers’ Markets Ontario (FMO) have been hosting online meetings with market managers and municipal and public health officials to discuss operating models and public health protocols that will enable farmers’ markets, as essential sources of food, to continue to open and operate this spring and summer, while maintaining public health as a primary objective.

On June 5, 2020, FMO and Sustain Ontario’s Farm and Farmland Network Chairs received a requested letter from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirming that markets have always been included in the Provincial Orders as essential businesses if they are primarily selling food, and that markets can sell more than food products, so long as the majority of vendors are selling food. (All market plans must be approved by local public health units). This was to assist municipalities across Ontario where interpretation by local officials was either not accurate or unclear, thus causing a barrier to local farmers serving local markets.

View the full letter from OMAFRA here.

Farmers’ Markets Ontario remains available to answer specific questions to ensure all markets can continue to open as soon as possible while maintaining public safety.

Best practices for operating a multi-vendor, multi-stand farmers’ market in Ontario are also available on the FMO website here.

Next Meeting

The next joint meeting between Farmers’ Markets Ontario and Sustain Ontario to answer questions, share ideas and practices across markets, including in-person markets and pivots to online markets, will be held this Thursday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Email to receive the Zoom link (dial in will also be available).

The invitation is for anyone involved in operating a farmers’ market including market managers, vendors at markets, public health officials and municipal staff/elected officials.