Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Program

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Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Program | How do I Start an Alberta Approved Farmers' Market? | Best Practices for Alberta Approved Farmers' Markets | Annual Requirements | Food Safety | Webinars | Sunnygirl Logo | Approved Market Directory | Publications and Resources

Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Program

The Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Program is an Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) program. The Local/Domestic Market Expansion Branch of AF administers the program on behalf of the Minister. The Program creates an operational framework that facilitates direct market access for community-based entrepreneurs who make, bake, or grow the products they sell. Basic operating guidelines, provincial program-awareness initiatives, and the education of vendors, managers and consumers are the key components of this community-based program.

Over 130 Alberta approved farmers' markets are serving up some of the most nutritious, fresh, Alberta made products available. Along most highways in Alberta you can see the Sunnygirl logo announcing the existence of an approved farmers’ market nearby.

Following the "Make It, Bake It, Grow It" philosophy, Alberta approved farmers’ markets provide a direct contact for consumers to producers. Consumers can talk to the person that grew the carrots, raised the chicken, baked the bread, produced the jam, or knit the sweater. Each approved farmers’ market in Alberta is independently operated and therefore reflects the culture of the community.

Farmers’ markets are the #1 agri-tourism attraction in Alberta. Farmers' markets provide a great shopping experience where consumers can "savour time rather than save time". They are a chance to shop in a relaxed, fun atmosphere while receiving the highest quality products. With average spending per visit to a farmers' market at $70 and the total estimated market value of farmers' markets equalling $924 million in 2016, the future for farmers' markets in Alberta is very bright.

How Do I Start An Alberta Approved Farmers' Market?

Thinking of starting a farmers' market? The following fact sheet, application, program guidelines and other general information will help you to get started.
  1. Starting an Alberta Approved Farmers' Market - This fact sheet (Agdex 845-21) is designed to give new market organizers much needed information and tips about starting an Alberta approved farmers' market.
  2. Approved Farmers' Market Program Application form - revised May 2017. All applications submitted after May 15, 2017 must use this form.
  3. Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Program Guidelines - updated February 2016
  4. Sample market rules
  5. Sample vendor application - This Word document is intended to be downloaded and revised to suit the needs of the individual markets. Please remove the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry logo before using.
  6. Public Health Act Food Regulation - Part 3 pertains to Farmers' Markets. There are other sections referred to as well which you must be aware of when operating an approved farmers' market.
  7. Roles and Responsibilities of Boards, Sponsors and Advisory Committee - This document defines the various roles and responsibilities for these important governing bodies.
  8. Special Market Protocol - From time to time, market management wants to host special markets in addition to their regularly scheduled markets. This protocol describes the conditions that must be met in order for approval to be granted.
  9. Market Statistics - Information provided on the annual Statistical Update Form is compiled to develop this document. It contains information on manager compensation, table fees, insurance and number of vendors per market.

Key contacts for Alberta Approved Farmers' Markets are:
Eileen Kotowich, Vermilion 780-853-8223
Delores Serafin, Edmonton 780-427-4611
Abby Verstraete, Edmonton 780-422-2550

Best Practices for Alberta Approved Farmers' Markets

Farmers’ markets are one of the primary places where Albertans turn for local food. Market patrons enjoy having the ability to directly connect with the producers, processors and artisans, along with the opportunity to build an informed and trusting relationship.

A project was undertaken in the summer of 2015 to identify and share the practices that were implemented by market managers, governance bodies and vendors to make their approved farmers’ markets a vibrant market channel for make, bake and grow entrepreneurs to connect with their clients and the community.

This best practice summary was created through:
  1. A review of the farmers’ market best practices available on-line,
  2. Interviews with market managers, who were selected using market size, location, focus and success, and
  3. Market visits, which included conversations with market vendors.

Ten key areas were identified which, if implemented along with the Program guidelines, may lead to a vibrant market. These areas of focus include:
  • Managing and leading the market
  • Market governance
  • Planning and strategy
  • Location, environment and layout
  • Vendor recruitment, selection and expectations
  • Community engagement
  • Market promotions
  • Market activities and special events
  • The vendor’s role
  • Evaluation and statistics

Annual Requirements

In order to retain their approved status, Alberta Approved Farmers' Markets are required to submit market paperwork to Program staff annually. All paperwork is due JANUARY 15. The annual paperwork consists of the following:
  1. Sponsor Approval Form - Must be printed and signed by the President of the sponsoring organization. Due January 31 of every year.
  2. Farmers' Market Annual Paperwork Package
    1. Market Information Form - Collects at-a-glance contact information about your market for the upcoming market season.
    2. Statistical Update Form - Collects statistical information about your market for the season just completed. This information is compiled and a summary is placed on the website.
    3. Vendor List and Instructions - Collects information about your vendors. It is essential that you include all the times each vendor has attended your market as this number is used to calculate averages for your market, i.e. the 80/20 split and average number of vendors. Be sure to include all vendors in your listing even if they are only casual vendors or if they only came for your special markets, i.e. Christmas markets
    4. Website/Mobile Phone App Information Form - The information on this form is used to populate our Sunnygirl website and mobile app. The farmers' market brochure will no longer be printed.

All of the forms are available as fillable forms. They can be accessed either by opening this pdf file or this Word file. The forms need to be saved on your computer and emailed to us at

The forms fillable components will not support mobile devices so the forms do need to be filled in on a computer.

Email Consent Form - From time to time, we want to send our market managers information about upcoming events that may be of interest to the managers or to their vendors. As this is outside of the Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Program requirements, we require your express consent in order to do so. Please complete this pdf form or Word form and email it to if you are willing to receive email updates from us.

Annual Spring Letter - A letter is sent out every spring to Managers and Sponsors updating and reminding them of a variety of topics.

Food Safety

Farmers' Market Food Safety Home Study Course
The safety of the food being sold at approved farmers’ markets is critical to the success of farmers’ markets in Alberta. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) is committed to ensuring market managers and vendors have a minimum level of food safety training. Working in partnership with Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health, a farmers' market food safety home study course was developed and is available on-line through Alberta Health Services. The course certificate expires after three years. To renew, the course exam must be completed and submitted again.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is requiring that all market managers, food vendors and their employees selling at Alberta approved farmers' markets complete this course within one year of becoming a market manager or food vendor.

Exception: Completion of this course is not required for those individuals who have already completed an approved Alberta food sanitation and hygiene training program and/or who are required to complete the food safety training described under Section 31 of the Food Regulation.

Upon successful completion of the course (passing grade of 80%), you will be sent a certificate by Alberta Health Services.

Managers and vendors must display their certificates at the market. For vendors who are selling at multiple markets, a copy of the certificate is acceptable for display purposes.

A food vendor is defined as any vendor selling a food product. This includes but is not limited to fresh fruits and vegetables, protein products, and all food products that have been baked and processed. Vendors of prepackaged products, i.e. vendors operating as distributors, who do not actually handle the food product are advised to take this training but are not required to do so UNLESS they are sampling those products at the market.

Market Manager and Vendor Food Safety Checklists
These simple self-evaluation checklists highlight areas of concern in food handling at the market and will help you think about the food safety risks. They will help you identify the things that you are doing right and things that need to be changed and improved. Four different checklists are available:

Manager startup checklist;
Manager weekly checklist;
Vendor startup checklist;
Vendor weekly checklist.
For further information contact Eileen Kotowich.

Alberta Health Services Farmers' Market Information
Alberta Health Services (AHS) has compiled all their standard operating procedures (SOPs) for farmers' markets into an easy-to-read information package. These documents are provincial in nature and are used with all approved farmers' markets across Alberta. This package includes:

  • Information for Farmers' Market Managers and Stallholders,
  • Farmers' Market Manager's Checklist - Daily,
  • Farmers' Market Vendors' Food Safety Checklist ,
  • Farmers' Market Guidelines for Canning Lids and Jars.

Alberta Food Regulation Webinar - Update February 2018
This webinar explains what can and cannot be done under the Food Regulation with respect to food products at Alberta approved farmers' markets.


Explore Local Webinar Series: These one-hour web-based seminars bring you timely information on a variety of topics - all geared to help producers and small scale processors selling into local markets access the information needed to run their businesses more effectively and profitably.
To view previously recorded webinars, go to the Explore Local Webinars page.

Sunnygirl Logo

The Sunnygirl is the Official Mark Alberta approved farmers' markets. This logo helps the consumer identify that the market is approved and they are affiliated with a chain of high quality markets offering Alberta-produced products that consumers can trust. If you are an Alberta approved farmers' market, you can use the Sunnygirl logo in your promotions. Contact Eileen Kotowich to get a copy of the logo to use in your promotions.

Alberta Approved Farmers' Market Directory

Our directory is an interactive map that shows all the markets in the province or select a region to get a closer look at the markets in that area. Click on a pin and you will see information about that market, including location, dates and times.

The mobile app mirrors the information found on the website, giving users more functionality on their mobile devices. Available for download for both iOS and Android devices.

Publications and Resources

Food Labelling
The Food and Drugs Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act requires that all prepackaged foods have complete food labels including ingredient lists and allergen identification. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has developed an interactive on-line tool to help you understand what is required on your food label.

Marketing Food Safely - Farm Direct Advantage
Developed in partnership with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the Alberta Farmers' Market Association, the Marketing Food Safely home study manual is a distance delivery education tool for farm direct marketers. The manual is a reference guide, a workbook and a planning tool. It focuses on marketing activities, not production or processing. It is available here for download as a pdf.

How to be a Farmers' Market Vendor Information Sheet
The purpose of this information sheet is to provide information to vendors and potential vendors on selling at farmers’ markets.

Farmers' Market Strategic Planning Workbook
The purpose of this workbook is to provide market managers, boards and sponsors with a template to work through a strategic planning process for the market. Strategic plans should be develop and reviewed on an annual basis. The Strategic Planning Template is useful when developing and agreeing on action plans for the market.

Farmers' Market Manager Job Description
This information sheet was developed as a guide for markets to use when developing a job description for the market manager position. Not all the material contain within will apply to all markets and so the document should be customized for each market.

Interview Questions for Farmers' Market Manager
This information sheet was developed to provide boards and selection committees with some tips on the types of interview questions which should be asked during an interview for the farmers' market manager.

Irrigation Water Quality Safety
The safety of our food is critical. One area of importance to many of our producers is the safety of their irrigation water. The Irrigation and Farm Water Division of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry recently developed a brochure entitled Irrigation Water Quality Safety for Fresh Field-grown Fruits and Vegetables.

Study of Local Food Demand in Alberta, 2016
This 2016 study continues to explore the trend to purchase local food, "food grown or made in Alberta", and its value represented at farmers' markets and farm retail. This study established baselines for two other market channels: restaurants serving local food and community supported agriculture or community shared agriculture (CSA)/box programs.

For more information on Explore Local, click here.

For a complete list of Alberta approved farmers' markets, check out our Directory
Download the Approved Farmers' Market App and experience a farmers' market near you.
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    For more information about the content of this document, contact Eileen Kotowich.
    This document is maintained by Delores Serafin.
    This information published to the web on March 16, 2016.
    Last Reviewed/Revised on June 26, 2018.