This little planner goes to market: reframing the urban food system through the promotion of urban ecological planning perspectives at The Village Market, Winnipeg
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Many academics, activists and agrarians suggest that farmers’ markets contribute to community economic development, urban revitalization and regeneration, and socio-cultural change. However, very few studies have analyzed the role markets play in reframing the relationship between urban inhabitants and their rural counterparts, and the impact that this has on environmental sustainability. This thesis explores farmers’ markets as venues for introducing an urban ecology worldview to urban inhabitants. An action research approach using qualitative methods examine a case study of a new urban farmers’ market, The Village Market, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Methods of inquiry included: literature research; two vendor and consumer focus groups; and eight semi-structured interviews with individuals involved with the market. The thesis shows that urban ecology is a theoretical perspective that helps place urban citizens directly within their locality through the introduction of ecological principles within their day-to-day lives. Secondly, urban markets were found to be an excellent opportunity to present urban ecology into cities, as they are tangible points of contact in a local food system. A farmer’s market can help challenge the notions of ‘agriculture and ‘rural’ by connecting a producer and a consumer. This assists in changing the way urban consumers view their local and regional environment. Mutual knowledge and cultural exchange around food also helps teach the diversity and seasonality of local food varieties and of the social and environmental resources required to produce food. Markets can also play a pivotal role in changing the physical space of its host site with relatively few resources; The Village Market has been successful in reclaiming a contested and poorly perceived public space. Planners can play a focal role in planning cities around the basic necessity of life, food, at the fine-grained and citywide level. Opportunities include securing accessible and safe public spaces, providing the necessary infrastructure and public transportation for markets, recognizing farmers’ markets as a unique entity within bylaws, permits and the municipal fee system, providing citizens with the opportunity to directly contribute to long-term sustainability of their neighbourhood and region, and capitalizing on the inherent qualities of a city’s existing spaces.