Public markets impact
climate action, place & agency, poverty, inclusive economies, social connection, access to fresh food, waste management, individual health, public health, community resilience.

Every neighbourhood should have them.

Collage of images: Group of people in a community garden holding herbs and vegetables; woman serving food in an outdoor food stall; open common area at Stackt Market
Underpass Farmers' Market, photo by Marina Queirolo
Afro-Caribean Farmer's Market, photo by Jonah Zapparoli
Market 707, photo by Scadding Court Community Centre

Scarborough Neighbourhood Fresh Food Markets | 2022 Pilot Learning Report enjoy one of the many beautiful videos and photos that provide a snapshot of the pilot's impact.

Toronto LogoGolden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance LogoRed Onion Events LogoMarket City TO Logo
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Toronto boasts 105+ diverse markets mostly happening in the public realm.

  • diverse-markets-4.png They fill a mid-size public food distribution gap vital to our ability to supply food regionally.
  • diverse-markets-3.png They stimulate hyper-local economies.
  • diverse-markets-2.png They serve neighbourhoods and build relationships among residents.
  • diverse-markets-1.png They have proven they can adapt in the face of pandemics and supply-chain challenges.

But our public markets operate independently.

And they have little capacity to collaborate or advocate for the policies and resources they need to flourish.

What we do

marketcityTO is on a mission to make Toronto's soul visible through its neighbourhood markets.

11th International Public Markets Conference

Last June, Toronto hosted the 11th International Public Market Conference, where the City of Toronto announced an official Public Markets Week

Hosted by Project for Public Spaces, in partnership with St. Lawrence Market, the City of Toronto Economic Development Food Cluster Division, and marketcity TO.

The event drew 376 global leaders, including market managers, government, academia, civic society and the private sector from 130 cities and 23 countries. 

It was an incredible event and a milestone in our city's journey to be a Market City! 

The conference allowed Toronto market leaders to collaborate, share ideas, and learn from a global network of peers. The conference showcased Toronto’s grassroots approach to building a Market City, and most importantly, it spurred much-needed action in our city. Check the conference program.

Enjoy this beautiful video and read the Project for Public Spaces Report!

Scarborough Neighbourhood Fresh Food Markets | 2022 Pilot

This pilot is prototyping a new market model better suited to the urban context by bringing together three interconnected programs, a neighbourhood market, Ontario Fresh Food Table & ScarbTO Mrkt Bucks, that enable more residents and entrepreneurs to participate and benefit.

Lead partner: Jennifer Forde, Scarborough and Courtyard Farmers' Market
Supported by: City of Toronto Economic Development Division and Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance. 

ScarbTO Mrkt Bucks

An alternative exchange system benefitting residents’ income, food entrepreneurs, social inclusion, community health, prosperity, and resilience, belonging, and access to southern Ontario produce while keeping dollars circulating among Toronto and Ontario entrepreneurs.

Partners: Vision Quest/Red Onion Events, Golden Horseshoe Food & Farming Alliance, Feed Scarborough, Malvern Community Health Centre, Rising Sun Food Drive, St. Andrews Church - Scarborough, U. of T Scarborough Feeding City Lab. 

Co-create marketcity TO

2023 has been a tremendous year, and these three actions (IPMC, Public Market Week & Public Market Action Plan in 2024), culminate almost ten years of work launched at the Toronto Food Policy Council in 2015. 

During this time, we learned how to mobilize, advocate and build partnerships to lead this work.

The infographic below is the journey of getting to today, and the many actions it took to make all this happen.

2024 marks the beginning of a new era. Our upcoming work will focus on bringing together the development of the City action plan and marketcity TO governance and business model. More importantly, the relationship between the two will ensure the long-term impact of this work and change the way public markets currently operate.

We now have a unique opportunity to create something truly special. I have been studying local and global examples of market organizations, cooperatives, indigenous governance models, teal organizations, sociocracy, and self-managed teams to create a resilient organization anchored by richness, resourcefulness and creativity of our markets (abundance mindset), fosters leadership at every level and benefits all participants and members.

We are trying to change a system. In the process of change, we can not replicate today's models. The process of creating this organization will require deep engagement, trust-building, and commitment. As Nora Bateson wrote in Reunion, "It is not collaboration but composting," and "it is not a plan but a nourishing."

Do not hesitate to reach out; we want to co-create markecity TO will all of you. 

Making Public Markets visible! Building a sector

Toronto has more than 130 Public Markets (PM) built from the ground up by strong community champions or key anchor organizations. 

They embrace diverse models, audiences and mandates that respond to residents’ needs and often deliver programs that address municipal gaps. 

Though long-treasured by city-dwellers as a way to connect to local growers and urban entrepreneurs while surrounded by a festive atmosphere, markets provide entertainment and access to arts, crafts, street food and fresh produce.  Still, the widespread benefits of public markets need to be discovered and appreciated. As such, many public markets exist on the margins.

From the St. Lawrence market, the only municipal market, to seasonal Farmers and Flea markets, to semi-permanent markets like Market 707 or the Ontario Food Terminal (Canada’s only wholesale market), these public markets are drivers of our local economy. These forms of retail are part of the mid-size distribution infrastructure that enables regional supply, inclusive and diverse economies and promote social connections at a neighbourhood level.


Earth Month | Climate Action and Collective Impact

Eaters, growers, processors, entrepreneurs, and market managers — let’s come together and take action, big or small, to strengthen the community-based markets anchored in reciprocal relations between people, other beings, and Mother Earth.

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.

Check Making Markets Visible to learn more!

Building a sector together

Attention to everyone involved in Public Markets, Food, Farming, and Entrepreneurship in Southern Ontario! We are excited to invite you to the first symposium focused on community-based markets. 

We work with Toronto’s intrepid market managers, vendors, city staff and policy-makers to activate the power of markets. Get in touch ->

Marina Queirolo
Public markets & food systems specialist


6 recommendations to support public markets and strengthen the mid-size food distribution infrastructure that enable regional food.

1. Improve Permits & Regulations

Enable public markets to work more effectively. Increase knowledge and institutional capacity to support public markets better and demonstrate their impact.

2. Plan for Equitable Access

Support current and build new public markets to offer equitable access to both economic opportunities and fresh, culturally appropriate, locally produced food, especially for those most impacted by systematic marginalization.

3. Increase access to Public Infrastructure

Un-lock or build the public market infrastructure to enable the delivery of local and culturally appropriate food across our city.

4. Education & Awareness

Increase education about and promotion of public markets and their role in city building.

5. Build a Sector

Help managers, operators, vendors, and regulators realize the industry’s full potential by investing in their professional development and increase collaboration amonng all stakeholders.

6. City & Region Integration

Integrate public markets into city and regional strategies by working with Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance to partner with other municipalities to strengthen the mid-size distribution infrastructure that advances climate action and regional resilience.

Get coordination, management, or just support for market projects. Get in touch->
Reduce friction and increase capacity for market managers and vendors.
Strengthen the market network and ecosystem at the municipal, regional, and provincial levels.
Develop the public market sector and the resilient regional public food distribution infrastructure our city needs.