And so it begins. After a month of community consultations, planning, discussing and setting the groundwork, MarketLINK’s field research is commencing!As a backgrounder FYI: MarketLINK’s mandate is to connect local farmers to local markets. One of the largest-and most underserved-markets is the ethnic markets in GTA. So a central focus of our summer is to map out and understand the demand and supply of calaloo, bitter melon, bok choy and halal meat in this vast city.
Our team has had little guidance in the research design. Because, despite the intuitive response of, “Well, yes, it makes sense that ethnic markets would be a cornucopia for Ontario farmers…” there is a lack of long-term and sustained research on this topic.
This makes the task at hand both exciting and a challenge. After much thought, and the help of community consultants in the GTA (thanks to Omme, Patrick, Anan, Angela, and Rhonda and many others) and studies from the States, we’ve arrived at a plan.
Our plan is to interview both sides of the food chain: New Canadian consumers and the ethnic retailers, processors and restaurants that sell the food. Through holding focus groups, taking surveys, and a lot of beating the pavement, we will trace how those Chinese cabbages make their way from airport (!) to market to table.
Our preliminary study will reveal the importance of continued research into this ever-growing ethnic food chain. We are also aiming for very practical outcomes: such as a shortlist of the most popular ethnic crops and how to grow them in
Ontario; such as a list of retailers who would consider buying direct from farmers. And we’ll see what else emerges.
In short, the MarketLINK team is very happy to begin this exciting research! As over 50% of Toronto’s population is born outside of Canada, as food miles add up with each import, and as Ontario farmers continue to lose their farms, we figure that now’s a good a time as any.