What you see is what you get at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market as it becomes the first of its kind to verify every vendor selling goodsThird-party vendors have been traveling to the over 100 farms, homes and workspaces of vendors to ensure that what’s sold at the market is “authentic to the seller.”“Recently there has been an emergence in non-local non-authentic products in the market and we wanted to make sure our customers are getting only the most authentic products,” said Donna Lohstraeter, CEO of the Old Strathcona Farmers Market (OFSM).In 2017, farmers markets in Ontario faced scrutiny after vendors were caught misleading buyers about where their food was coming from.
Shoppers check out vendors at the Old Strathcona Farmers on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2019.
As of Saturday’s market, 104 of OFSM’s 157 vendors were verified. Lohstraeter hopes to have the remaining vendors verified this summer. So far the market has found no foul play of anyone trying to mislabel or sell inauthentic goods.“It’s reassuring right, I don’t want to feel like someone is pulling one over on me,” said Judy Salpeter as she shopped at the market on Saturday. “I wasn’t concerned about that coming here today to be honest. But (verification) can’t be a bad thing.”During the verification process the OFSM looks to ensure vendors have appropriate capacity and sufficient supply of materials to produce what they’re selling and that each product is accurately labelled to show the origin of the product.Verified vendors receive a wooden plaque to show customers that their stock is authentic. On Saturday a number of vendors already had their plaques on display.
Langer Craftworks wood turner Gord Langer shows the Verified For You plaques he made at his booth at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market in Edmonton, on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2019. The market has unveiled their Verified For You verified vendors program.
Ian Kucerak /
“I, as a vendor, get asked all the time, ‘Do I make it? is it mine?’ I always tell them I’m the farmer and this will testify to that as well,” said Sheila Hamilton, chair of the OSFM society’s board of directors and a verified vendor with Sunworks Farms.The farmers market received an $80,000 grant from provincial and federal agriculture partners to implement the verification process. As part of the grant requirements OFSM will now work with the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association to help with verification programs at other markets in the province.The market takes an Alberta-first approach to their vendors, Lohstraeter said over 90 per cent of vendors come from the firstname.lastname@example.org