There was a hint of a congratulatory mood at tonight’s Annual General Meeting of the Royal City Farmer’ Market at the New Westminster Public Library. The meeting was well attended and a number of people renewed their membership or became members with their $10 donation. Tenthtothefraser.ca also became a member in a way as both Briana and myself joined the society.
Andrew Murray, founder, past president and a major spokesperson for the RCFM, reported that over the 16 market days of the 2008 season, more than 11,000 persons attended the market and generated well over $220,000.00 in revenue for the vendors. By all accounts it was a successful season with happy vendors, lots of local buzz and acclaim and a RCFM Society on solid financial footing for this next year. Andrew spoke of the successes:
“It was awesome….vendors sold out early on the first day….they were shocked at the response, they were slack-jawed…we really differentiated ourselves from other markets by the high level of vendor care”.
There were challenges too. A major event to celebrate New Westminster’s 150th anniversary was dampened by rain for example. The society had to ensure that the Market was on solid footing even as it was placed on an aggressive slope on the 4th street parking lot next to Friendship Gardens and Tipperary Park. For all of this, though, the market leadership learned and adapted.
For the future, the market is keen to build on their 2008 success with a 10% growth goal in attendance and vendor revenue. One very interesting plan is to sign on with the BC Association of Farmers Markets (BCAFM) Farmers’ Market Nutrition and Coupon Project. This program offers a 15$ coupon each week to a selected number of low income families with kids. The coupon holders can use them on produce, eggs, mild and other unprocessed foods. Being a part of this program would help dozens of families get high quality nutrition and support a community building event. The program is funded by the BC Government and available in a growing number of health regions. Great Idea!
A full board of 7 members were elected for the year. This itself is high praise for a non-proft society, while so many other board seats go unfilled. Also telling was the fact that 9 people ran for a spot. Elected members will sort out positions amongst themselves in February. Elected 2009 board members are Andrew Murray, Marj Staal, Matthew Laird (past candidate for NW council, member of NWEP), Jane Wark, Sheila Roswell, Ilona Schachner (a market vendor) and John Ashdown. John owns the popular Village Coffee Lounge on 12th street and as I understand it, he was one of the founding members of Voice New Westminster, a local municipal political slate (no, not a slate, well, yes really, a slate). John’s establishment features a selection of organic coffees, and the connection to the farmer’s market is a natural one. (pun intended).
I can not wait to get involved for 2009. Congratulations to Andrew Murray and all the team that made the 2008 season such a roaring success. Huzzah!