Public Markets

November 21st, 2020

TFPC Public Market Project

TFPC believes that markets are a vital part of the neighbourhood-based food distribution models that increase access to fresh, nutritious and locally produced food and support the development of sustainable food systems.  

Traditionally during the summer season (May to October), the City of Toronto has approximately 100+ outdoor markets (46 Good Food Markets, 48 farmers markets and 14 community food markets) that operate in public parks, city facilities, public or private parking lots, religious or educational institutions, community hubs and private spaces. These markets play a vital role in providing access to fresh, local high-quality produce to tens of thousands of residents, and the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and small business owners in Ontario. Generating economic activity and strengthen regional food systems so critical to ensuring the city and regional resilience. 

What‘s a Public Food Market?

A Public Market is a year-round or seasonal, carefully crafted, intentional and diverse medley of owner-operated shops, stalls and/or “day tables”. Public Markets exist to fulfill a public purpose, showcase a community’s unique character and culture while serving its everyday shopping needs. They enable regular rituals of connection between diverse people that lead to an increased sense of belonging. Public Markets add value to the public realm and complete streets. They are community destinations that serve civic, social and physical needs. Public Markets when done properly they are the ultimate community development tool as they bring together social, economic and environmental impacts.

Can Toronto be a Market City? 

The TFPC has been working in the Public Food Market project for several years. Currently, Toronto has more than 130+ Public Food Markets (PFM) built from the ground up by strong community champions or key anchor organizations. They embrace a diverse range of models, audiences and mandates that respond to residents’ needs, and in many cases deliver programs that address municipal gaps. However, the majority operate independently and have limited opportunities to collaborate and advocate for city support. More importantly, public food markets are not part of the municipal infrastructure nor embedded in city plans, policies or programs. 

In early, 2020, Toronto was selected as one of three pilot project cities as part of the Market Cities Initiative. The initiative, which is being led by Project for Public Spaces in partnership with HealthBridge Foundation of Canada and Slow Food International, has been established to advance a new vision for public markets systems at the scale of cities, regions, and beyond. Read the full Media Release

This initiative is supported by the Toronto Food Policy Council, City of Toronto Economic and Community Development, St. Lawrence Market, Foodshare Toronto and the Greenbelt Market Network. 

Why is this important?

As we now experience with COVID 19, Toronto has 10 different types of Public Markets, and they have been heavily impacted by  COVID 19. Many markets are closed or struggling to stay afloat.  Here is a link to resources that help you understand the Toronto context and Toronto Public Markets Types and COVID 19 impact

On June 12, 2020, after much collaboration between Toronto Public Health, the Toronto Food Policy Council and Marina Queirolo, a food system & Public Market specialist, the City announced that public markets would be allowed to re-open. 

Despite the green light to open farmers’ markets and fresh food markets, there are still a number of challenges impacting their operation. Initiatives like Market Cities will help us gather the information we need to advocate for the policy changes that will enable public food markets in our city to thrive and contribute to the resiliency of our city and region. 

At the TFPC we believe that the solution to this pandemic crisis can not exclude Public Markets from our food access strategies and recovery strategies. Public Markets, in all its various types,  are effective “short supply chains,” which not only support regional small and medium producers and entrepreneurs but can also address food access needs that conventional food supply chains do not serve. 

If you are looking for more information or interested in being part of this project please reach out to Marina Queirolo, Public Markets Project lead