The Start of Something Beautiful – The Triple Bottom Line of Farmers’ Markets; choosing people, planet, or profit?

Hello world,

Welcome to the start of something beautiful, a community project that will focus on helping the Ambleside and Lonsdale Quay Artisan Farmer’s Markets to become a more accommodating place for vendors to thrive.

Meet the Team:

Lets start with
an introduction of our group members and some more information on our project!

Rita Steele
BSc. Global Resource Systems + Masters in Management Dual Degree Program

Within my program, I specialize in Ethics and Sustainability in Global Supply Chains. I am really interested in topics such as Fair Trade, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Trade & Environment Policy. I am currently working my first job in CSR with TD Bank Group and manage two non-profit organizations focused on the areas of Rural Education and Fair Trade Advocacy. I chose this project because it will give me the chance to hone in on skills I am trying to build up as I begin my first year in business school. I am excited to improve on the interviewing and data analysis skills that I had started to develop through other courses at UBC. This project is also especially relevant to my interests as my group will be taking on somewhat of a consultant’s role in our interactions with the North Vancouver Farmer’s Market. Consulting is currently an area I am exploring for my post-graduate career and so this project will give me a healthy amount of exposure to real world application. In my free time I’m an avid hiker/backpacker!

Jenny Lu
BSc. Global Resource Systems
4th Year

I am specializing in environmental and sustainability studies within my program. I am particularly interested in environmental policy and am hoping to go into environmental law after graduation. I chose this project as it presents an opportunity for me to give back and be more involved in a community that I am already a part of. I am looking forward to developing professional skills as this is the first time I will be collaborating with others on a larger project that will have real impacts on the community. This is an exciting opportunity to apply my in-class knowledge in the real world and I am positive that this experience will lead to the development of new professional skills such as communication, conflict resolution, and decision-making. I am looking forward to the immense personal and professional growth that this project will allow. In my freetime, I enjoy playing sports and trying new foods.


Andrew Nguyen
BSc. Food, Nutrition and Health + Masters in Management Dual Degree Program
3rd Year

I am very excited to be getting involved in the community and getting a beyond-the-classroom learning experience. I believe this experience will open my mind and other experiences that can further contribute to professional and career development. I’m excited to explore a real market and see how business really works. As a part business student, I chose this project to explore what managing a market can be like. I wanted to tie both my specializations together and see how our food system analyzing skills can better this organization and the community. Although I am still developing project management skills, I want to be more confident with communication between partners and external relations. I want to improve on leadership skills that encourage effective teamwork within our group. I also want to be able to oversee the logistics of the project so that I know what is happening at all times. On the side,  one of my hobbies is just simply enjoying the outdoors!

Niki Najafi
BSc. Animal Applied Biology + Pre-med
5th year

I have a great passion for both science and business. Currently, I run a small business based in Vancouver while studying to become a physician. This is a wonderful opportunity to apply everything I learned in so far to this project. I would like to improve my communication skills as well through the interview process. Finally, I am eager to learn about the artisan community and find solutions for farmers. My team and I will look at this project from every angle and will come up with a substantial strategy for the north shore market. It is very exciting to be part this project.

Ayra Casuga
BSc. Food, Nutrition, and Health – Major in Food Science + Masters in Management Dual Degree Program
4th year

It is a privilege to be part of a diverse team and to gain the opportunity to engage with community members in a local artisan market setting. I chose this project because I wanted the opportunity to learn more about the local products in terms of creativity, processing, and the complex issues they face in starting up their own business. I am interested in learning more about what drives suppliers’ decisions to sell their products in farmers markets, and  if there any barriers or  hurdles they have to consider. In terms of skills, I want to improve on my communication skills with community members as well as improve my ability to make concrete conclusions on complex problems through data analysis. I wish to further improve on my communication skills and problem solving ability in hopes to provide valuable information to small business owners on how they can overcome any economical or social issues they may have. Besides that, I am an avid yogi, wine enthusiast, tech lover, wannabe entrepreneur, nutrition and fitness advocate, and an outdoor explorer.

Lily Han
BSc. Food and Environment
3rd year

My passion and interest for food began with my initial major in Food, Nutrition and Health. After taking a course on applied biology and sustainability (APBI260), my interest shifted and I wanted to focus on how communities and small-scale farmers can work together to create a farming system that is more ecocentric. I chose this project because I have been going to the West Vancouver and North Vancouver artisan market for years but never thought to consider the mechanisms behind it. I have never conducted my own interview and collected my own data before. I would like to experience that process with this project. For the same reasons, I would like to interview at least one farmer. I am looking forward to working with my LFS 350 team as well as the vendors and farmers at the market to research and understand how it operates.

Team Background and Project Focus:

When we first met up as a group, we first shared why we were here. Why did we choose Artisan Farmers Markets as our community project? We found common ground in that we were interested in finding out the existing relationship between small businesses and their ties to local markets. Specifically, we were excited to explore the dynamics of the Ambleside and Londsdale Quay Artisan Farmer’s Markets and find ways to maximize the market for vendors and in turn, consumers. Despite coming from diverse backgrounds, our group’s common interest to work with farmers’ markets contributed to our individual decision in selecting this project. Furthermore, we share the same passion to create change for the better and improve North Vancouver’s communities’ well being through enhancing the local farmers markets. We all had different exposures to farmers markets, if any, and were all eager to learn more about this type of market. Throughout the process of this project, we are hoping to develop a better understanding of the farmers markets and community dynamic by critically analyzing the relationship which vendors hold with the community and market. On an individual level, we hope that this project will provide a valuable opportunity to develop professional skills related to working in a team setting. Skills such as negotiation, productive meeting management, and collaboration will allow our team members to succeed in our future endeavours. We are looking forward to being involved with the Artisan Farmer’s Markets and contributing our knowledge, analyzing skills, and passion to further improve this organization.

The Artisan Farmer’s Markets has three locations including Burnaby, Ambleside, and Lonsdale Quay. This project will be focusing on the North Shore locations, Ambleside and Lonsdale Quay.

The primary objective of this project is to develop an understanding of the important aspects for vendors when it comes to their decision in choosing to sell at Artisan Farmer’s Markets. In order to dissect this market, we would not using our expertise and knowledge with external perspectives. Instead our goal is to explore the market by understanding and getting to know the market as a local consumer or vendor and discovering what their views are. As we learned in class, the community input and consultation is tremendously valuable when developing meaningful research. This understanding will allow the markets to suggest changes to their structure to create a more accommodating environment for vendors.

Team’s First Impressions:

After our first meeting with Tara, the General Manager of all three Artisan Farmer’s Markets, we were feeling a mix of emotions. We were excited, overwhelmed, motivated, and most of all, uncertain. We were given the thrillingly exciting task of transforming 10 years of handwritten records into electronic data files. The records include all vendor information from 2006 to 2016, and re-organizing this data is the building block for the rest of the project. Acknowledging the  importance of asset-based community development is key to our success with this project and thus, we will need to critically analyze the data records to determine the existing strengths of the markets. Building on the identified strengths of the markets, we are excited to speak with vendors to gain insights as they are citizens of the community and are at the centre of development. We recognize that we are to serve the community, and it is through meaningful engagement by attending the markets and getting to know the vendors’ stories which will lead us to helping the markets develop in ways that are suited to the needs of the community, including vendors. Another interesting component of the farmers market dynamic is the relationships that exists within and beyond, in the communities. The asset-based community development approach emphasizes on the relationships involved to build community and thus, it is also impetrate that we keep an open mind to seek a comprehensive understanding of the various relationships between vendors and the community to reach our end goal. 

Reflecting from Ernesto Sirolli’s TED talk, this interaction with the Executive Director of the Artisan Farmers’ Markets was an exercise in listening to what a community needs rather than imposing ideas onto them. We sat down with the community partner representative and asked her what they was looking for, later sharing what our expectations and deliverables were as well. It turned out that the markets needed a lot more help than we originally thought, in ways we hadn’t pictured before this in-person meeting. Despite the initial shock and uncertainty running through our minds, we were committed to think together to better learn about what is needed. We were able to plan our group project around the community partner’s needs so that the plan incorporated the priorities and needs of the Artisan Farmers Markets.

As a group, we are looking forward to working with vendors to gain an insight as to why they are selling at the location they have chosen. We recognize it will be important for us to keep an open-mind when speaking with them and be actively conscious of Ernesto Sirolli’s advice of being respectful or in his words, “to shut up and listen”. We are looking forward to continuing to apply the asset-based community development model to our project by listening to the vendors’ ideas and helping them to find the knowledge necessary in improving the communities within the Farmer’s Markets.

Stacks on stacks on stacks of handwritten records yay

Team photo with Tara, General Manager of the Artisan Farmer’s Markets.

This project is just getting started. We already have some great discussions and ideas for how we are going to explore the Artisan Farmers Markets. Next week, we will be getting an opportunity to get our first glimpse of these markets which will help us focus our research questions and form our project proposal. We are excited to share our great ideas, insights, and discoveries so stay tuned until our next blog post!

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