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Earth Day Blog

Earth Day Blog

23-02-28, 10:00 p.m.

Earth Month calls for a public Market Revolution! April, with Earth Day on the 22nd, highlights the urgency of climate action. Wildfires loom, threatening outdoor markets and the communities they sustain. Growers grapple with shifting conditions. How do we spark action? How do we rally support for grassroots initiatives battling climate change?

Earth Month calls for a public Market Revolution! April, with Earth Day on the 22nd, highlights the urgency of climate action. Wildfires loom, threatening outdoor markets and the communities they sustain. Growers grapple with shifting conditions. How do we spark action? How do we rally support for grassroots initiatives battling climate change?

We know that Farmers’ Markets and new forms of community-based Markets led by younger folks are interested in reducing consumption and aligning their purchasing power with environmental and social values. These alternative forms of distribution are anchored in the community:

  • Reducing the environmental impact of farming by supporting and promoting farmers using organic, ecological or bio-dynamic farming practices that reduce environmental impact on soil, water and habitats.

  • Reducing food waste: farmers and food producers are “smart” about what they need to harvest to bring to market. Little food is wasted, and whatever is left after the market goes to another market or the compost bin at the farm. Customers purchasing food at markets also waste less because they buy what they need weekly.

  • Preserving farmland in the right kind of farming by enabling farmers to have income through direct sales of sustainably grown food.

  • Promoting seed diversity and heirloom varieties, leading to a more resilient ecosystem better prepared for climate change.

  • Supporting and promoting smallholder livestock farming at a scale that supports good animal husbandry and is better aligned with the region's carrying capacity and reducing environmental footprint. (dairy and meat)

  • Reducing food miles and CO2 emissions related to transportation and packaging required to move food and other goods over distances

  • Reducing single-use plastics in the market by having practices, policies and programs that reduce the use of single-use plastic and overpackaging.

  • Encouraging customers to reduce, re-use and repurpose clothes and household items, reducing the number of textiles and furniture ending up in landfills, especially at Flea, Vintage, and Antique Markets.

  • Increasing education and providing concrete climate change actions for residents by creating places for face-to-face conversations with producers, increasing transparency and delivering programs that increase customers' understanding of the complexity of issues.

We recognize that significant issues go beyond what a single neighbourhood market can address. These include the under-representation of Indigenous people and their foodways, the difficulty of accessing land, income inequality, and the high cost of producing organic, artisanal food that is better for the environment but unaffordable for many residents, leaving people out. Additionally, marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, which is an issue that needs to be addressed with urgency. However, market managers are committed to finding localized solutions (often filling institutional gaps) because they genuinely care about making a difference in their community.


For nearly a century, governments worldwide have invested in a globalized food system, a legacy of colonial and imperial mindset, that aims to reduce the cost of production by moving people and goods across the globe. Through this process, the agro-food industry has externalized its adverse impacts on people and the planet. However, this is slowly catching up. A 2023 FAO global report, The State of Food and Agriculture, reveals that agrifood systems' global quantified hidden costs amount to 10 trillion dollars, of which over 20 percent represent environmental hidden costs, equivalent to almost one-third of agricultural value added. These costs are primarily associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) and nitrogen emissions and are relevant across all country income groups. An example of this is the USA's most significant Climate Solutions Investment Bill ever launched in 2023. While food loss and waste are the most significant sources of urban consumption-based emissions according to the United Nations, other industries like “fast fashion” every year, with 85% of unwanted textiles (worth US$100 billion) ending up in landfills. Equally important is “fast furniture,” with over 12 million tons of furniture ending up in United States landfills, negatively impacting workers, waters, non-human creatures, plants and the planet. And there is an urgent need to factor these costs into decision-making to transform the dominant model and level the playing field for alternative solutions.

What would happen if a portion of the “trillion dollar negative impact” was redirected to rebuilding local infrastructure (people and buildings) to strengthen the local supply of foods and other goods and increase its impact?


Only a few residents regularly visit and shop at their local markets, and often, the connection between regional supply and climate action is overlooked. We know that by capturing the stories of the work already happening in the community, we can provide a glimmer of hope to residents and customers and inspire more people to join the local movement to transform our food system and economy.

In our network, we have a few markets leading the work. Withrow Park Famers Market has an impressive annual report for their season. Evergreen Saturday Famers’ Market increased awareness and demonstrated the environmental benefits of shopping at their Famers’ Markets; the Junction Farmers’s Market successfully delivered a Waste Free campaign in 2018.

Unfortunately, market managers and community-based organizations lack the resources to consistently implement, track, and report the year-to-year environmental initiatives.

Cities like Vancouver have already integrated local food assets (farmers markets, community food markets and urban agriculture) into their climate action. The Greenest Action Plan recognizes that a stronger food system reduces the environmental impact of food production and transportation, and they have set up a target to increase city-wide and neighbourhood food assets by a minimum of 50% over 2010 levels. We are also inspired by organizations like Farmers Market Coalition or ReLondon. Toronto still has a lot of work to do in this area. Public markets need to be adequately integrated into the City of Toronto's Climate Action plans, and there needs to be a process by which we can add up what individual markets are doing to demonstrate the sector's impact.

Let's ignite a public Market Revolution! And work together to amplify our impact through storytelling and data. At marketcityTO, we aim to find the resources and co-create a framework to collectively track and demonstrate our sector's environmental impact. If you want to be involved or support this project, please reach out to Marina Queirolo at

This blog sheds light on the vital role community markets play in advancing climate action. Happy Earth Month! See you at your neighbourhood market.

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