WorldFMC at the 11th International Public Markets Conference (Toronto, Canada)

Earlier this month WorldFMC President Richard McCarthy and some of our members attended and participated in the 11th International Public Markets Conference. Our WorldFMC members were also deeply involved in the conference:

  • Peter Leblanc (British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets) and Justin Cantafio (Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia and Canadian Farmers’ Markets) were panelists in IPMC’s opening plenary, Unlocking the Potential of Public Markets across Canada.
  • Peter, Justin, Kristie Beynon (Canadian Farmers’ Markets member Direct Farm Manitoba) and Darlene Wolnik (Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), USA) co-hosted a workshop on How to Start and Grow Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Programs.
  • Catt Fields White (Farmers Markets Pros, USA) and Sagdrina Jalal of SageD Consulting hosted the session Is Your Market a Gentrifier or a Generator? Head Facilitator in the development of the Anti-Racism Farmers Market Toolkit supported by FMC, Sagdrina presented the toolkit in that session.
  • WorldFMC Board Member Thiago Nasser (Junta Local, Brazil) spoke on the panel titled Market Adaptation Stories
  • Kristie Daniel (Healthbridge Foundation of Canada) hosted an all-woman plenary panel that analyzed a range of markets from Bermuda to the UK to Latvia to Melbourne
  • Canadian Farmers’ Markets also welcomed FMC and WorldFMC to join their Farmers’ Market Booth creating an international farmers market experience!
  • One evening, Canadian Farmers’ Markets hosted the Farmers Market International Social, which invited people from around the world to discuss the power of farmers market models in addressing a range of challenges.

Below, we’ve collected a few of our members’ reflections on the gathering of more than 300+ attendees. 

Reflections from Justin Cantafio, Executive Director, Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia, Canada)

The world descended on Toronto, Canada’s largest city, to attend the 11th IPMC, hosted by Project for Public Spaces, the City of Toronto, St. Lawrence Market, and Market City TO. As a member of the conference planning committee, I took great pleasure in ensuring that both the Canadian and international farmers market scene would be well represented at the conference. This event also served as the first ever in-person meeting for the members of Canadian Farmers’ Markets, including representatives from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

The farmers’ market model, adaptable and resilient in its very design, offers a flexible multiplicity of applications to the various pain points identified at the conference!

– Justin Cantafio

After three jam-packed days of plenaries, panel discussions, workshops, and tours, the major thing that continues to stick with me is just how powerful and adaptable the farmers’ market model is. Public markets represent the innate human tendency to animate public spaces through food, commerce, and community. The farmers’ market model, adaptable and resilient in its very design, offers a flexible multiplicity of applications to the various pain points identified at the conference!

Reflections from Peter Leblanc, BC Farmers Markets (British Columbia, Canada)

While I expect to inspire more farmers markets developing such programs [like the nutrition coupon program], for me, the best upside was learning more about each program and how we can learn from each other and work together to expand this initiative further!

Reflections from Darlene Wolnik, Farmers Market Support Program Director, Farmers Market Coalition (New Orleans, USA)

Since the 11th IPMC event closed on Saturday evening, I’ve taken the time and space (while streetcar-ing/biking/walking) around Toronto to reflect on this latest gathering. I realize each time that I am able to participate, I exponentially grow my network and learn so much – and sadly, that is not universal among conferences that I attend. I think the reason it is so valuable is because it is co-convened with local leaders that are deeply involved in the planning and because active participation is vital. It’s truly a peer-to-peer experience, where mobile workshops and tours are led by community members and the generous time in between sessions is full of dynamic conversations with new ideas born. For example, I was honored to be asked to share an “unconference session” (aka hands-on sharing/learning session) with my Canadian counterparts who are doing beautiful (joyous, human-centered) work with coupon incentives at their farmers markets, with the room filled with practitioners and partners offering ideas of their own. As a result, I definitely am going home with ideas for how the USA (with FMC in support) can think about how to retool its long history of these programs.

I had just attended the WorldFMC General Assembly, so once I arrived at IPMC, I was able to focus more quickly on farmers markets issues outside of the USA, which was helpful to find replicable resources. Of course, it was also amazing to reconnect to those leaders I had met in Rome, including my Canadian colleagues, our Americas WorldFMC Board Member Thiago Nasser and to spend more time with WorldFMC President Richard McCarthy. 

Reflections from Thiago Nasser, CEO & Co-Founder, Junta Local (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)   

Being at the IPMC drove the point home that although public markets can take multiple shapes and forms, they use the same infrastructure that is important to promote social connections at a small and medium scale that are vital to cities and local food systems. Therefore, connecting the dots, collaborating and advocating together is vital. Toronto is leading that push, based on the examples of other cities, and seeing how city, markets, academics and activists are collaborating, was very inspiring.

Reflections from Catt Fields White, Founder and Lead Consultant, The Farmers Market Pros (San Diego, USA)

The IPMC in Toronto followed so closely to the WorldFMC’s general assembly in Rome that many of us picked up conversations we’d left mid-sentence just 2 weeks earlier. It was yet another few days of meeting people in person that we’d come to know across the miles and the years via emails and Zoom. Reuniting with old friends and making new introductions it quickly became evident that each of us were only a degree or two of separation apart. This extended family is kept closer by ideals than it could ever be distanced by mere geography. 

In our session, Sagdrina Jalal and I posed the question: Is Your Market a Gentrifier or a Generator? The answer, of course, is “yes”. If ever we suspected that racism was a construct in the USA, we confirmed in that room full of international attendees that the efforts towards, and barriers to, making farmers markets more welcoming, equitable and diverse are common throughout the world. 

The InTents Conference, the IPMC, and the WorldFMC’s assembly, all in a space of a few short months, reminded us that nothing can replace the spontaneous combustion of ideas that happen when like minds gather in person.  

– Catt Fields White

The IPMC is undeniably tilted towards the development and preservation of markets with permanent structures. A large number of us who are devoted to the sleeping giant that is the web of consistent pop up markets were there in force as well. The power of direct marketing to fuel astounding economic growth, biodiversity, and food justice can sometimes go unrecognized by those focused on bricks and mortar. Still it’s there, heralded or not, quietly transforming communities one tent at a time.  

We’ve spent years now connecting digitally and on screen. The InTents Conference, the IPMC and the WorldFMC’s assembly, all in a space of a few short months, reminded us that nothing can replace the spontaneous combustion of ideas that happen when like minds gather in person.  

Very thoughtful reflections from WorldFMC members. If there is one common thread from all of these reflections, it is that moments to gather and converse in person are invaluable – no wonder we like farmers markets so much. What a fantastic opportunity to meet and collaborate at the IPMC, and we look forward to future opportunities to gather around all things markets. 

Recommended Articles