Following the post-war years, people left the farm and smaller communities in favor of working in larger urban centres. Food was purchased more and more from supermarkets that sourced their food from around the country and the world, resulting in a loss of connection with our country roots. Farmers’ markets existed in Alberta prior to 1973 but there was a lack of consistency with regards to how they were set up and operated. In order to support the development of markets in the province, Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development (AFRED) introduced the Alberta Approved Farmers’ Market Program (the Program). The Program ensures minimum standards are followed by those markets choosing to be part of the Program. Approved farmers’ markets provide a preferential outlet for Alberta entrepreneurs to sell the products they make, bake or grow directly to consumers.
In 1985, Alberta Health amended the Alberta Public Health Act Food Regulation for those markets approved by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development. Alberta Health Services (AHS) issues a farmers’ market permit, i.e., food permit, to approved farmers’ markets. This permit acts as an umbrella permit under which all food vendors fall, allowing them to produce their food products in uninspected home kitchens and offer those products for sale at approved farmers’ markets. Approved farmers’ markets are the only venues in Alberta where both low and high-risk home-prepared foods can be sold.
The Sunnygirl Mark was developed by AFRED as the official image of farmers’ markets recognized under the Program. The image is registered as an Official Mark owned by the province of Alberta and can be used by all approved farmers’ markets in their advertising and promotions. See Appendix 6 for information relating to use of the Sunnygirl Mark.
In addition, AFRED and Alberta Transportation worked together to develop the farmers’ market highway sign. The symbol on this road sign, similar to the registered mark, identifies those towns and communities with Alberta approved farmers’ markets. See Section 4 for information about purchasing one of these signs.
The Program began with four markets following the “Make It, Bake It, Grow It” philosophy. There are currently over 150 approved farmers’ markets in Alberta supporting thousands of Alberta businesses.