Pocket Market Toolkit

Section 1: Why Pocket Markets Section 2: About Pocket Markets Planning a Pocket Market Setting up a Pocket Market Information for farmers Links to resources

Pocket Market Toolkit Home

Section 4: Setting up a Pocket Market

If you are interested in setting up a Pocket Market there are many different models you can use.

Section 4.1 Setting up a Pocket Market with FoodRoots' Support
This section outlines setting up Pocket Markets in partnership with the FoodRoots Distribution Coop.

This is followed by details on setting up Pocket Markets in specific locations such as:

Section 4.2 Setting up a Community Pocket Market (without FoodRoots' support) provides links to information that will help you consider and set up a market on your own.

4.1. Setting up a Pocket Market with FoodRoots Support

How does FoodRoots operate and support setting up and running Pocket Markets?

FoodRoots is a co-op distributor of local naturally grown produce and foods processed in our region. FoodRoots undertakes crop planning and purchases from local food growers and processors, provides delivery and storage facilities, and supports and operates a network of Pocket Markets that sell these local naturally grown products to neighborhoods and communities across Greater Victoria. If you are interested in setting up a Pocket Market, you may want to consider a partnership with FoodRoots.

FoodRoots Vision Statement

You can learn more about FoodRoots through their home page at www.foodroots.ca

Why might you want to consider having FoodRoots support your market?

If you are interested in setting up a Pocket Market, working with FoodRoots might be the way to go. Some groups look to FoodRoots as a way to springboard a local market. Having a consistent vendor with a variety of products is a good anchor that can be built on by adding other vendors as they come on board and as the market builds up its customer base. Another reason you may prefer to have FoodRoots as a vendor at the market is that it is relatively easy. The relationships are already formed with local growers, and the details of setting up the table and selling the product are looked after as well.

How can FoodRoots support setting up a Pocket Market?

FoodRoots can support you to have a Pocket Market in

If you want to work with FoodRoots you need to be, or to find a host organization to work with. The reason for this is that iff you want to host a market on public lands you will need to have permits and liabilty insurance, and this necesitates that their be a responsible legal entity. Here are some examples of hosts:

If you are not a legal entity you may find an organization that supports the idea and will work with you on the market.

In working with FoodRoots, you start by choosing between two options, the FoodRoots Pocket Market, or the Pocket Market Kit, and then take it from there to create the type of market you are looking for.

The FoodRoots Pocket Market: How it works is FoodRoots supplies the produce and other local goodies, market tent, tables, and displays and sells the produce, deals with any excess, and takes the financial risk. The community or host organization provides the location, insurance, and engages in the promotion of the market. One person needs to be a key contact person and there needs to be a volunteer to help setup and take down.

Mobile Market Kit: Another option is to use the Mobile Market Kit and invite your own vendors. FoodRoots will provide a mobile market kit, which consists of the equipment you will need to have a market (tent, tables, table cloths, scales, displays, bowls etc.) and you are ready to bring or buy your product.

FoodRoots' Role in distribution of local products

FoodRoots works as a link between food growers and processors and people who are looking for naturally grown healthy local foods. It can be difficult to find and access local foods for those living in the city. Often we may not have transportation to the farm gates or to one of the larger farmers markets. FoodRoots plays a valuable role in encouraging local production in that it buys from local growers and provides them with the opportunity and incentives to increase their production for local market. Farmers are paid a fair price for their products. FoodRoots then funnels the food into neighborhoods and events at a price that is fair for the consumer. The low overhead of the markets together with a large helping of volunteer work helps to keep the price fair and competitive for the customer. In the end everyone wins. Farmers have a consistent market, fresh produce is close to your home or work, and we build a stronger local food system.

What does FoodRoots do?

Mobile Market Kit

Another option is to use the Mobile Market Kit and invite your own vendors. FoodRoots provides a mobile market kit, which consists of the equipment you will need to have a market (tent, tables, table cloths, scales, displays, bowls etc.) and you are ready to bring or buy your own product. Use of the Mobile Market Kit may require a deposit.

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Setting up Pocket Markets in Specific Locations:

Pocket Markets in your Government Office

"Making nutritious food available at work promotes and supports healthy lifestyle choices. It also contributes to increased productivity, employee morale and overall well-being."

– From Meet Well, ActNow BC

Pocket Markets have met with great success in office buildings. Currently markets have been held in the BC Ministries of Environment, Community Services, Agriculture and Lands, Public Affairs Bureau, Health, and the requests keep coming. A Pocket Market in an office building makes great sense on many levels. Having access to healthy choices for snacks and meals is very appealing to staff. Some offices have kitchens which make the Pocket Market even that much more appealing. People can also easily do their weekly shop for perishable goods on their way home for the day, knowing they are supporting local agriculture and getting the freshest top quality goods.

One benefit that has also emerged is that in office settings the Pocket Market is creating an alternative "water cooler", where people stop and take the time to chat and catch up.

Establishing a Pocket Market in an office setting is often initiated by a staff member who has seen a Pocket Market or heard of it in another Ministry office. The markets established in Ministry offices have often come through the initiative of a Health and Wellness or Healthy Living staff committee. Generally these committees investigate the idea, create a proposal and then contact someone in senior management to determine the ability to implement their idea. One way of gaining support for having a Pocket Market, is presenting it in terms of meeting a mandate of the "health of employees or of a "healthy workplace".

Some things in particular to consider in an office setting are:

Security: Many office buildings have restricted access areas. This must be discussed with Senior Management to determine the location and who will be able to have access. In some cases it will not be appropriate to have the market open to the general public. This is important to discuss ahead of time with Security as well as to ensure that promotion of the market makes it clear that this is for "staff only".

Insurance: You will need to make sure that there are not any specific insurance considerations and clear this with the Facility Manager. FoodRoots itself carries public liability insurance. Make sure you are paying attention to any health and safety protocols or concerns (i.e. access to fire escapes and doors etc.).

Parking and Access: There will need to be a spot to park the van to unload near the location of the market as well as a parking spot nearby for the van.

Other Food Service Contracts: Does your organization have food service contracts which might impact your ability to host a Pocket Market? This will be important to clear with the Facility Manager.

Promotion: Intra-office memos, e-newsletters, announcements, and posters are good ways to get the word out in an office setting. Remember there may be security reasons for not having "outsiders" come into the building and this should be clear in any promotional material work.

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Pocket Markets in an Educational or Institution Setting

Pocket Markets have been held at Camosun College and the University of Victoria. There are many opportunities for Pocket Markets at educational institutions, including public or private, and from Preschool to Post Secondary.

There are a few avenues to securing permission for a Pocket Market. A proposal could be generated by students, parents, teachers, or the administrators of a school.

At the University of Victoria the proposal came from the students backed by the Student Union. This was perhaps the most expedient way to have a market on the University. The market is held in the Student Union Building. This avenue provided access to space, funding, and a group that helped with promotion.

In terms of the sustainability of the market, going through the administration may be a better long-term solution. It may be a slower process but the administration would have the ability to implement long-term agreements, rather than the year by year negotiations currently undertaken with new student executives.

Things to consider:

Location: It is important to find a spot with a lot of student, administration, and/or faculty traffic. Unless there are facilities for students to prepare food, around the dorms might not be the best location. Also choosing a day and time of day when there are many students around is important (for example a weekend market might not be the best choice).

Security: Some areas of the University Campus may have restricted access areas. This is important to discuss ahead of time with Security as well as making sure there are not other concerns in terms of access or safety.

Insurance: You will need to make sure that there are not any specific insurance considerations and clear this with the Facility Manager where you intend to hold the market. FoodRoots itself carries Public Liability insurance.

Parking and Access: There will need to be a spot to part the van to unload near the location of the market as well as a parking spot nearby for the van.

Other Food Service Contracts: Does the Institution have food service contracts which might impact the ability to host a Pocket Market? This will be important to clear with the Facility Manager

Promotion: Are there faculty or student list serves that you could utilize for sending out an e-newsletter or announcement? Is there a School newsletter or newspaper? Posters will also be a good way to get the word out. Remember to follow posting protocols for posted information.

Tagging to another event: Is there something else going on at the school that happens regularly that you might want to coordinate with?

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Pocket Markets in Community and Recreation Centers

There is increasing awareness of the need to create healthy choices within the range of food offered in recreation facilities and through recreation programs. Currently, a program promoting Healthier Choices is being piloted in recreation facilities across BC. A tool kit to support this program was developed by the University of Victoria School of Exercise Science, Physical Education and Health Promotion in partnership with the Ministry of Health. Among the recommendations offered in the toolkit is enhancing food outlets and services through having Pocket Markets in recreation facilities. FoodRoots hopes to pilot a Pocket Market at the Esquimalt Recreation Center.

Some of the following information has been adapted from the tool kit promoting healthier choices (thanks to Megan Purcell, Graduate Student, University of Victoria). To learn more about the Healthier Choices in recreation facilities Google the "Municipal Recreation Food Environment Action Toolkit" (MRFEAT). It will soon be available on line.

Why have a Pocket Market in a Recreation Facility?

Will a Pocket Market work in your Recreation Facility?

Every recreation facility is different. Some have food services that are contracted out; others are run by staff, or run by volunteers. There may be a high degree of flexibility in setting up a market, or there may be restrictions making it more difficult, especially in larger facilities. Some recreation facilities may already be participating in the Healthier Choices Program and there may be a greater level of support. In any case you will need to identify who should be approached and work with them on looking at the options for having a Pocket Market.

Things to consider:

Assess the Facility: Is there a good location within the recreation center that provides high visibility and more foot traffic? Would it be best to be located next to other food services? Is there a day or time of day that has more traffic? Are there any safety or security concerns? Is there access for the truck to park nearby for loading?

Is there specific programming that you might want to coordinate with? It may be good to look at programming and coordinate the location, time of day and day to fit with specific programs such as mom and tots, senior’s fitness, cooking classes etc.) Look at the event calendar; are there ongoing events that would be good to coincide with (i.e. swim meets on weekends, upcoming health fairs)?

How might you promote the market? Promoting the market is very important, hand outs for staff telling them when the market is schedule and what it is about, postering, ads in the activities guides, news letters, events, etc. Make sure you are aware of any protocols and deadlines within the centers related to promotion.

Are there FoodService Contracts within the center? There is a wide range of arrangements for food services in centers. It is important to know if the recreation center currently has food service contracts in place and if there is any specification that might prohibit other food service vendors on site. If this is the case you may need to work to change this through asking the management to review their RFP process so that this would be allowed when it is time to renew the contract.

Food and Revenue Generation: Some recreation centers gain revenue from their food services and food vending machines, it is important to know how having a Pocket Market will fit in with this plan.

What might be a process to establish a Pocket Market in your recreation facility?

1. Who do you need to work with? First check to see if your recreation facility has a Healthy Choices Committee to see if you might work with them. If not find out if a Committee/position oversees food and beverages in the facility, or contact the Facilities Manager. In the case of a public facility you may want to go and introduce the idea to the Director of Parks and Recreation. If the person at the top is on board, you may find less resistance as you move things forward with managers and staff.

2. Make the case: Talk with the committee or person about the idea and potential benefits to having a Pocket Market in the facility. Using the Healthy Choices Toolkit described above will give you some good background information. Let them know that other facilities are considering Pocket Markets, and invite them to visit one to see it in operation.

3. Look for ways to link the Pocket Markets to other programs and activities: If you have support, look at opportunities for linking the programs and promotional opportunities within the recreation facility.

4. If you need to build support talk to parents or facility users that may be supportive of the idea, talk to staff and programmers as well, find out what the concerns might be and discuss ideas for overcoming obstacles. See if you have interest in forming a committee to work on the idea (Possible members could include frontline staff, managers, board members, parents, children, teens, seniors, food service personnel, community nutritionists or dietitians, coaches, athletes, and any other interested community members).

5. Gaining approval for your Plan: You will need to go through an approval process. Identify which decision makers need to be approached for approval (e.g. Board of Directors, Elected Officials). If you have a committee, you may want to approach one or two decision makers who may support your initiative, and ask them to be on your committee. Having the support of leaders and decision makers is important in gaining approval.

Tips for gaining and maintaining support:

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Hospitals and Care Facilities (Health Authorities)

Many people have wondered if a Pocket Market could go into a health care facility or hospital. There is much interest in getting healthier choices into our facilities, which are designed to promote health and well being as well as restore and cure us. Hospitals are under the jurisdiction of the Regional Health Authorities. Most often facilities have established contracts with food providers that will have to be considered. FoodRoots is beginning preliminary discussions as to the feasibility of setting up Pocket Markets in Victoria area hospitals.

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4.2: Setting up a Community Pocket Market (without FoodRoots' support)

You may choose to set up a Pocket Market on your own. Much of the above information on setting up a market with FoodRoots is still applicable; however there are many additional things that you will need to explore. There is a lot of information available on the web in terms of setting up markets. This section will provide you with some valuable links to help you set up a community Pocket Market on your own.

A good first stop in terms of resource is the BC Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM)web page. If you look on their webpage www.bcfarmersmarket.org you can find information on the following:

How to Start a Market
Health Regulations
Insurance Coverage
Farmers' Market Hwy Signs
Promotion Ideas
Tips for Farmers Markets

Besides the above information you will also find:
information about the BCAFM [ About Us ]
Their newsletter [ BCAFM News ]
The location of markets in BC [ Find a Market ]
Events Calander [ Events Calendar ]
Information for shoppers [ Info for Shoppers ]
Information for Venders [ Info for Vendors ]

Other good resources we have found are:

A Guide to Starting, Operating, and Selling in Farmers' Markets (pdf) by Charles Marr and Karen Gast

Establishing and Operating a Community Farmers’ Market (pdf) by Forrest Stegelin, Extension Marketing and Agribusiness Specialist. We found their information straightforward, although geared to an American audience. Their timetable to set up a market shows the steps you might consider going through. (Note: Our recommendation would be to allow more time "up front" in terms of securing the location and public support. In addition this timetable does not contemplate the work to outreach to, and gain support from attending local growers. This should also be considered in planning up front).

The following timetable is an excerpt of their web material

Proposed Timetable

The following timetable proposes a calendar of actions and activities that should be followed to establish a community farmers’ market. Consider it a "things to do" list or checklist.


  • Gather a group of interested people
  • Determine specific goals and tasks
  • Explore the mechanics of direct marketing
  • Look for and settle on a location
  • Gain community support and fund raising
  • Check into legalities
  • Begin publicity to farmers (continue through May)
  • Promote the farmers’ market concept
  • Market management and organization
  • Begin publicity to consumers (continue through September)
  • Open the farmers’ market
  • Promote the farmers’ market (peak season)
  • Sponsor a special activity
  • Organize and solidify farmer-consumer association
  • Extend the marketing season with fall crops
  • Solicit and evaluate suggestions from farmers and consumers
  • Close market

The material gives a long list of things to consider in terms of the feasibility of the market and also points out the following in terms of the facilities:

In terms of displaying items they suggest

They also provide detailed information on the following:

Here is one more link to check out:

Market Managers Resource Center (although it is from the West Virginia University Extension Services and has American oriented content it is still useful)

Next - Section 5: Information for Farmers

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