The 2020 Weston Farmers Market season got under way today in beautiful weather. As is normal for such season openers (usually in May), attendance seemed sparse and there was an added inconvenience for patrons to wait patiently until they were admitted into the market space. The market, second oldest in the city, is in almost exactly the same place it occupied five years ago although narrower and today had fewer stalls.
For years, traders have insisted that the specially designed market area at the end of John Street was too small and wouldn’t withstand the weight of delivery vehicles. The B.I.A. saved the day with the solution to use the Toronto Parking Authority lot on the other side of the building.
For the last few years the market has used the highly visible UP Express and Weston Baptist Church parking lots. That option is off the table. Unfortunately, the location at the end of John Street is invisible to traffic passing along Weston Road and so it will be a challenge to lure fresh customers to the site. In addition, former anchor tenant and actual farmer, Joe Gaeta has moved elsewhere.
Because the market now occupies the parking spaces intended for use by people visiting the er, market, John Street was in effect one-way thanks to parked vehicles occupying the inbound lane. As patron numbers increase, parking will become a greater issue. Let’s hope that some of the kinks can be worked out quickly. Incidentally, Grandpa Ken’s was there today.
Extra credit: How the Weston Hub was financed here.
There’s a couple of news items that have surfaced lately. One is a notorious chair throwing incident and another is a Metrolinx promise to a community.
Which is garnering the most attention?
Which is of greater consequence?
In February 2019, aspiring media celebrity Marcella Zoia, a teenager at the time, threw a folding chair from a downtown high rise. For some reason, the video of the incident was posted to social media and all hell broke loose. The press has given huge amounts of attention to the feckless Ms. Zoia’s case, hounding her during several court appearances where she eventually coughed up a guilty plea. After her sentencing (a hefty fine and community service), hanging judge John Tory has chimed in to to say that Ms. Zoia (AKA Chair Girl) should have gone to jail. Apparently the mayor believes that without the deterrence of a jail term, others will be inspired to fling furniture from tall buildings – where will it all end? Mayor Tory had no hesitation in criticizing the work of Justice Mara Greene who wisely ignored the Crown’s recommendation of a 6-month jail term. Let’s not get into the purposes of jail but suffice to say that it should be reserved for violent offenders rather than idiotic teens. This isn’t Georgia or Alabama.
Let’s take a moment to be grateful that the mayor is in a position where he is relatively inconsequential and move on to another news item.
In this story, Councillor Anthony Peruzza is complaining that Metrolinx is breaking a promise to donate a chunk of land in the Finch Avenue West and Yorkgate Boulevard area for the purpose of building a community hub. Here, you’ll not find hordes of reporters breathlessly pursuing Metrolinx executives for an answer. Lazy members of the press and Mayor Tory find items like this tedious. There are no dramatic foot chases no videos and no public outrage. Metrolinx spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikins says that Metrolinx cannot donate land to the City but indicated that there’s lots of time. to work something out. Translation: there’s time for the public to lose interest and for the story to be buried.
Sadly, that sums up the news cycle these days. Councillor Peruzza represents one of the poorest wards in the city and instead of government agencies joining forces to build up an impoverished community, they conspire to work against it. The press largely doesn’t care.
This is reminiscent of the Toronto Parking Authority sale of the 16 John Street parking lot in Weston, a piece of land that once belonged to the old town of Weston (in another one of the poorest wards in the city) and which could have formed the heart of a stand-alone Weston Hub. It wasn’t to be. People were seduced by the promise of a glitzy new home for the Weston Farmers Market along with community space and live/work artist accommodations. Council was swayed by the next-to-zero cost and the only downside was to be a 30-storey tower and podium, something not envisioned by Toronto’s 2011 feasibility study.
When the Weston Farmers Market opens a week on Saturday (August 1), it won’t be convening in the space that was a big part of the selling job.
Apparently traders don’t want to use it because it’s too small and their trucks (which they need close by) would damage the paving.
No, the market’s going back to almost the exact location where it began on John Street. The ample parking promised for the farmers market turns out to be the new market space itself. The space is larger than the fancy concept one and the paving can withstand trucks. If instead of selling the parking lot, the Toronto Parking Authority (a branch of city council) had donated the land to the community, things could have turned out differently. Sadly the press was focussed on other things and the public was seduced by fancy drawings. That’s the nature of news these days.
Maybe we can invite Marcella Zoia to cut the ribbon on August 1st.
The Farmers’ Market will open on August 1, according to the BIA. They are also looking to hire students to help with the market—but hurry; the deadline is tomorrow, July 20.
The Weston Library is also reopening a bit, for scheduled computer bookings.
Caillou at the ready to greet customers! ☺️
Our branch will be open for scheduled computer bookings— in addition to curbside pickup and item returns— beginning Tuesday July 21st. Customers are able to make computer bookings beginning on Monday July 20th.https://t.co/uwtwNdFsbGpic.twitter.com/24bm3IviR0
I don’t know how I missed it, but Thames River Melons, which for my money has the nicest produce at the Weston Farmers’ Market, now delivers.
They are offering three sizes of produce boxes, with selections depending on harvest–but you can expect “a mix of strawberries, zucchini, new potatoes, green onions, carrots, beets, peas, beans, raspberries, blueberries, sweet corn, garlic, muskmelon, and watermelon.”
The small box is $25, the regular is $50, and the large is $75. You can order extra flats of Ontario strawberries too. And thanks to a friend, I had some today. None finer.
Raspberry, blueberry, and mixed-berry flats are coming in late July.
Take a trip to Grimsby and on Mud Street West in a place called Grassie (really), you will find some familiar faces. Joe Gaeta who used to sell his produce at the Weston Farmers Market has a family run nursery and farm there and is now open for business with an excellent variety of vegetables, annuals and hanging baskets. Joe wasn’t there yesterday but his wife Olga and daughter Sabrina were.
If the drive to Grimsby is a bit far, you’ll (hopefully soon) find Joe and his family on Saturdays at the Humber Bay Shores Farmers Market or on Sundays at the Eglinton Way BIA Farmers Market – 125 Burnaby Boulevard (Eglinton near Bathurst).
Note that at the moment all Toronto’s farmers markets are closed – Weston’s until July 4th at the earliest.
Gaeta Farms and Greenhouses is at 174 Mud St. West, Grimsby, Ontario L0R 1M0.
Run by the Weston Village Business Improvement Area, the market was supposed to open in its spanking (if constrained) new Hub location on John Street in 2018 and when the site wasn’t ready, the market was able to survive thanks to the generosity of Weston Park Baptist Church. They loaned their parking lot by the UP Express station.
The 2019 booting out of long time trader (and actual farmer) Joe Gaeta was another setback and then as luck would have it, the following week, city inspectors withdrew the Farmers Market designation because of insufficient, er, actual farmers.
In yet another blow to the WFM, the BIA announced yesterday that the market will delay its 2020 opening until Saturday, July 4 at the earliest.
From the Facebook post announcing the delay:
“On behalf of the board of the Weston Village BIA, I regret to inform you that because of Covid19,and the city’s restrictions with respect to gatherings of 5 and over, we are delaying the opening of the 2020 market to Sat, July 4th or until restrictions are lifted by the city.
The market is a wonderful community gathering place, but, right now, the health and safety of our customers, vendors and market staff are the main priority.