Elora Farmer’s Market continues to support local growers while building a stronger sustainable business model
In 2005, Barbara Ruth Lee and her business partner at the time, Rhoda Lipton noticed that they were missing access to local food in their own community. At the time, Barbara and Rhoda owned the Elora General Store where their vision was to sell as many local products as possible. Even though they were surrounded by farms, they found themselves having to drive further away to get access to fresh food from local growers. This inspired them to start a market of their own on the property of the General Store. Given its great success, Barbara and Rhoda decided to move to a location that could maintain their initiative on a larger scale and launched the Elora Farmer’s Market. Barbara is thrilled to see the market’s connection with the community and to support growers with the challenges they face. The Elora Farmer’s Market is a true community hub where local farmers, producers, and vendors can present their goods to the people of Centre Wellington.
With the help of Rob Mackay, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Elora Farmer’s Market, Barbara applied to the Seeding Our Food Future program. Rob is a grower himself with a background in business management. As he has been supporting the market through strategic planning and organizing, he and Barbara knew SOFF would help them establish the market as a sustainable entity. With the funding and mentorship provided, the Elora Farmer’s Market is building a stronger business model and are working toward registering as an incorporated not-for-profit. This will ensure the market’s stability and will allow them to continue working in collaboration with local municipalities. It will also have a major impact on the communities they serve as the Elora Farmer’s Market plans to continue making food accessible for everyone through their discount window. The discount window at the end of the market provides people with fresh produce at more accessible prices and prevents excess food from being wasted. While COVID-19 has made running the market challenging, the Elora Farmer’s Market is continuing to support their growers and vendors by helping them connect with businesses looking for local produce.
Barbara believes that the key to circularity is connecting people with food in a meaningful way. As a hub for community connections, the Elora Farmer’s Market strives to build a sustainable economy by encouraging people to support the local food movement. They are passionate about acknowledging the value that each customer and vendor brings. The Elora Farmer’s Market encourages their vendors to use environmentally-friendly practices and packaging and even provides resources to minimize food waste – like the discount window. For Barbara, circularity is about avoiding waste at all stages and using what you can before it must become compost or go to landfill. For Rob, circularity is about sharing resources from excess produce to farming equipment. The Elora Farmer’s Market is run by a collective of passionate individuals who aim to instill sustainable habits in their community and raise awareness to build a thriving circular food economy.