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posted August 13, 2006

2006 Market Patron Survey

Scene from the Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market
from Berman Photo Gallery

Hello Everybody,

Thanks to all of you for supporting Mary Lou's market survey project. We've had a good look at the results, and wanted to share some things we've observed. Many things didn't come as a surprise, but there were useful reminders and things to be learned. I've summarized the main points below. Just under a hundred surveys were returned of the many that went out. Not as many as we'd hoped for, but the answers were very thoughtful, and about thirty new subscribers joined the market e-news list, so that was a good side-effect. Also, ten of the respondents didn't yet realize that we run year-round, so that tells us it wasn't only "old" fans who took the time to do the survey, and reminds us to keep on telling people we're around 52 weeks a year!

Some info:

1) Although this has been a summer when Jutta and myself have observed many, many new faces, the survey emphasized how much strength comes from the immediate neighbourhood. Over 70% of respondents come from under 2km away. So, if anyone feels concerned that another organic market elsewhere in the city would undermine our success, that fact should be reassuring. Just over 40% walk, a quarter drive and a quarter bike, the rest take the TTC.

2) 57% of the respondents shop at the market every week, and another 16% come every other week; we have a very dedicated group of regulars. About 40% said that they shop at other markets as well; this included Kensington and St. Lawrence as most common.

3) 28% of respondents were in their twenties, 32% in their thirties, 20% in their forties, 9% in their fifties....

4) 16% shop for one, 31% shop for two people, 26% for three, the remaining 14% for four or more.

5) Almost half learned about the market from a friend or word of mouth. It's the best advertising there is! Another 24% said they found us because of our location in the park.

6) Almost half of respondents attend other events in the park, notably theatre. Prepared food vendors, please take note: events in the park during or following the market have a big impact on how many meals are consumed at the market. You can better estimate how busy you'll be by taking a look at the "events calendar" on the website to see what's on each Thursday.

7) A third of shoppers spend about an hour at the market, almost a third spend thirty minutes or less, and the others stay 2, 3 hours or even longer. We're curious about those speedy shoppers....

8) When asked what the most important aspects of the market are, "local" and "organic" were tied for by far the most significant. Meeting producers was next in importance, then the community meeting place that the market offers, with price just below on the list, and specialty foods lower in priority. We also asked customers to tell us their favourite things about the market, and here again, local and organic were mentioned many times, along with the friendly, community-oriented atmosphere, the quality and the variety. Lots of individual, special comments here, too.

9) Many people felt the market has had an effect on their eating habits or attitudes towards food; comments here were very positive, and the educational role of the market is clearly significant.

10) Respondents' "wish list" and other comments:
-both earlier and later hours were requested(about ten comments in all, more for earlier),
-more winter space/complaints about winter crowding mentioned a number of times(don't we know it!)
-more vendors/bigger space
-a Saturday market
-complaints about strollers, crowds
-an alternative to Earthbound produce
-activities/events for kids & adults
-ingredients lists on products

A related point:

We had almost 7,000 visits to the market page of the website in June, and have over 400 weekly subscribers to the market news, so there is clearly great interest in regular info. about what's happening and what's available. If you are not on the subscribers' list and would like to be, send me an email: The news is always posted on the website as well.

We hope the survey results are interesting for you, and welcome your comments, of course. It was a real pleasure to read about how much the market matters to people, and it's because of all of you, so THANKS!


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