Goodbye Farmers Market. Time to act Ms Nunziata.

Weston Farmers Market at the old location in 2004.

Here at Weston Web it often seems as if we’re voices in the wilderness. When the Weston Hub was proposed it was extravagantly sold to the people of Weston as an indoor-outdoor community gathering space that would host a year round market.

Nunziata reported she and York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese recently gained a financial contribution from Metrolinx to create an indoor farmers’ market to complement the existing, popular outdoor market in a parking lot, making the farmers’ market a year-round draw.” From toronto.com Feb 15, 2012.

Councillor Nunziata has contacted WestonWeb to say that the John Street parking lot is being developed to accommodate a year-round farmers’ market, cultural hub and affordable condo living / workspace for artists. She goes on to say that nothing is being done behind closed doors. Perhaps she can shed some light on this topic (at a community meeting) on March 14th“. From Weston Web March 9, 2012

The Weston Farmers Market is a creature of the Weston Village Business Improvement Association. Once plans for the Weston Hub were revealed, it was clear that there would be no year round market and the space allocated for the WFM was miserly. In effect, the Market was used as part of a bait and switch scheme. The Weston Residents Association launched a full court press in support of the scheme and opponents to the development were regarded as progress-hating pariahs. Now it seems as if the forebodings were real and that residents were sold a bill of goods.

It was also clear that the farmers market on which Ms Nunziata based her plans was the one at Wychwood Barns; also held on Saturdays. It is basically a boutique market. No doubt there is a demand for rainbow catchers, sheep yogurt and hemp smoothies in Weston but we’re a working / middle class neighbourhood that has (thanks to the departure of Greenland Farms) just become a bit of a food desert. This is not the time to be alienating legitimate produce sellers who were fighting  to improve the cramped and inaccessible Weston Hub space opening next season.

Market vendors have known for years that the new space in the Hub was inadequate. They were told to adapt or look elsewhere. Truckloads of fresh produce would have to be parked on side streets and delivered by hand to the new mini stalls.

Joe Gaeta had been with the WFM for 39 years. He was one of the few market vendors who genuinely grows his own produce, spring bedding and decorative plants. Joe is someone who speaks his mind and he made it known that the Weston Hub space was inadequate, poorly designed and inconvenient. He no doubt spoke truth to power once too often and was asked to leave with only a day’s notice.

Joe Gaeta at the Weston Farmers Market in May 2019.

Ms Nunziata has been busy this week campaigning for Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen. Incidentally other candidates running are Jasveen Rattaan (Conservative), Yafet Tewelde (NDP), Nicki Ward (Green), Gerard Racine (PPC).

Perhaps our Councillor can remove herself from the hustings long enough to fix this mess that threatens to destroy one of the few bright spots in our community.

From Facebook.

Nothing happens in the Weston BIA (or indeed Weston) without the express approval of Frances Nunziata (and that includes Joe Gaeta’s expulsion). She must fix this by apologizing to Joe and offering to accommodate his needs and those of other legitimate market vendors. There has been a subsequent movement to boycott the WFM for the rest of the season. Just in case you need any further indication of the classiness of the Gaeta family, Joe’s daughter Sabrina posted this response on Facebook (edited for clarity):

Boycotting the Weston Farmers Market for the remaining season on our behalf, Gaeta Farms and Greenhouses is NOT the right decision. As much as we appreciate everyone’s support with how unfairly we were treated we have to continue to support the farmers and other vendors who still attend the market. The Weston vendors did not ask for us to be ejected from the market, they don’t need to be punished as well. We want our vendor family to succeed. It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so let’s be thankful.

The loss of Gaeta Farms will be a death blow to the Weston Farmers Market. The loss of our Farmers Market will be another self-inflicted blow in the (apparently re-energized) decline of our community.

45 thoughts on “Goodbye Farmers Market. Time to act Ms Nunziata.”

  1. It’s time our community band together. Make a vote that counts. Start federally and when time comes, municipal elections will be upon us. Then vote again. And one by one, we can make the change happen that’s needed to uplift our community. New votes, new leaders, new, better outcomes.

  2. Well written! My family, early Weston residents have been going since the day it opened. It was a fresh way to start Saturday, and meet with neighbors. It bustled with music, pets, produce and pride. The back bacon was a tradition thanks to another wonderful family, who gave a smile and a generous samdwich. There was space to park and to accommodate little tables and chairs, as well as wheelchairs, and families holding hands. The vendors were passionate and pleasant. Now it’s just an inconvenience. Shame on the way the builders and politicians come and smiled at us, gave us a free pen and a flyer of how wonderful it would be. They said it would not change, the market would just move for a few years. Claire

    1. Very much agree on how this was for progress for the big businesses and not for the little guy fighting for survival….kudos to you and your family Claire Massabki…you should run for office as you would be perfect for the job at hand.

  3. This is a bit hyperbolic, the loss of 1 vendor in the WFW is not an issue (Gaeta complained about the location and new size details etc and were asked not to continue to participate in the market as is the markets discretion) but the writers insistence that change is bad or is the death of the farmers market is over stated, I am looking forward to the Farmers market settling into its permanent home in the Hub, I look forward to modernizing and catching up to other neighbourhoods amenities and markets, why do I have to drive to other neighbourhoods to attend a nice organized and local artisan inclusive farmers market? right now Weston Farmers market is a mess of boxes garbage and dirty vehicles strewn in a parking lot in a simplistic and uninviting way at a go train station with a complete lack of variety in vendors.

    Time for change, modernization and inclusiveness , not shying away from change. The Hub will work as a center for change in the neighbourhood if you let it. The neighbourhood and the farmers market needs the changes to survive and thrive, the change is coming wether you complain about it or not, so relax and take a deep breath.

    1. Phil,

      I don’t believe you understood what the author was getting at in the article. You are correct, one vendor doesn’t kill the market but it’s the final straw in a series of missteps from the BIA and our councillor that kills it.
      On Saturday the city inspector was there and downgraded us from a farmers market to a flea market since we no longer have a 50% + 1 farm to vendor ratio.
      Also, the year round market that was promised is not happening. That was a lie told to the community for their support of the project. Instead of the modern and clean market you are expecting, we are getting a smaller area that is not appropriate for the farmers. No farmers means no market.
      It’s not that we are shying away from good change, this is bad change and when it was brought to the attention of the BIA and Nunziata, their answer was to eject the voice of reason.

  4. With regard to the million dollars of Metrolinx money, it was part if the $17.5 Million in development charge forgiveness, property tax forgiveness, and direct cash contribution given to the developer in return for the 8000 sq feet of community space and 79 reduced rent units (80% of market rent). The community space and reduced rents are for 25 years only. For that much money we could have purchased 80 units outright to rent out at 50% of market.

    In addition we get a 30 storey tower, which has caused ‘tower contagion’ as all the other developers are scrambling to change their applications to 29 or 30 stories. How long til Weston looks just like Jane/Finch?

    Finally the residents of 33 king are being asked to pay (through an application for above guideline rent increases) for the parking lot construction to permit Rockport residents to park there.

    1. You know Mike your suggestion that 80 units could be purchased and rent at 50% instead of the 80% rgi now available didn’t go unnoticed … I think it is rather ugly that you would prefer to put 79 families out in the street for wealthier families who could then afford your higher rents.
      And above guideline rent increases are common for repairs in older buildings, but they are limited, I Received the absolute max increase possible a few years ago myself, it was manageable.

      1. I did not suggest reversing what is already in place. My comment was that the money was not wisely spent. 17.5 million for 25 years of 80% of market was not a great deal. None of the units are RGI.
        And to force a rent increase on tenants for improvements to their building is one thing. To force them to pay for improvements for someone else’s building is shameful.

  5. to above. A change is only good if its improved. How did the BIA do re-vamping Weston Rd?- sadly they dropped that ball too- What have they done to manage change except to add their signature touch of decline. I was in a little offshoot town of Kerr a month ago- what a main street vision!- it not even Oakville. I thought immediately- take pics- to show how our main street could look- why do we suffer ametuer planters-junk filled windows, litter, no imagination- artistic fair, colour or any vibrancy?- If you expect them to miraculously transform a working project into something teeming with artistic fair and vibrancy- you have their portfolio of work right in front of you! And as we know a community is more than its buildings and neighbourhoods thrive with people of lively generous spirit, like Joe Gaeta, who brought his baby goats one market so that the kids who never get to see how cute they are- might enjoy them. The market was once called a” happening” by the To star and ” for a few short hours it teemed with life”- then the magic was gone as quickly as it came.
    It WAS Magic.. and Joe was a big part of that personality melding with music pets chatting neighbours. If the BiA knew how to create magic- they’d have demonstrated such-
    wake up and smell the reality- have they advertised- promoted – scouted entertainment- done anything- talked to the vendors for input? no- they’re shooting for a run down flea market with a few veggies-because that is what they do best! So its time Francis delivers as promised to the community- A permanent home for OUR WFM- not to deliver someone elses idea of a market. The only gem here is the mrt- if mess worries you then you of all ppl should be screaming at what theyve been doing on the main street- and not tamper where there was success.

  6. You folks all bought into what paul Bedford, nunzita, albanese sold you…I didn’t and when I complained I was asked to leave. Well now I can at least smile and say I was right.

    1. I complained too and I join you in being right. Nobody listened and I was dismissed as though I couldn’t see what was to come. I could never understand why anyone would want to make more high rise buildings here. It hasn’t added anything to the neighbourhood. We have lost even more.

  7. Right from the beginning most of is in Weston could see the space for the market would be too small. That a vendor was asked to leave is so sad, and it looks like our local politicians have dropped the ball. John and South Station streets should both be closed off on Saturdays for market purposes and our farmers market brought to life again!

  8. Very well-stated, Roy. While I hate saying we told you so, these were the same critiques many of us advanced when we were first being sold on the sweetheart Rockport development. I distinctly remember the Councillor shutting down opponents at one meeting by dismissing them as just being “political”. In reality, it was she and the former MPP who played politics with the community, announcing Metrolinx money with great fanfare, suggesting it would transform our community’s greatest asset for all to benefit. It was bullshit then. And it’s really bullshit now. Too bad so many well-meaning folks were, and continue to be, so easily hoodwinked. But hey, the Councillor got what she wanted — she’s been re-elected two more times since then.

  9. Good idea, Wendy.

    Good solution, under the circumstances – close off those streets to vehicular traffic for the hours of the market.

    And then, see if it still “stinks” – before we bbq everyone “responsible” for it’s demise – all the politicos and their associates.

    “Burn the witch!”

    Anyway, why not let the “farmers” drive in & set up. As for the rest, put one door in front of the other and manage as best you can, from nearby.

    Whatever.

    (Maybe..
    .. some of us don’t buy into the fact that it’s truly a genuine “farmers mkt” like in a rural town. And, therefore still go to the “local” grocer of choice for our produce. (?)

  10. I I think it’s about time that we got rid of Francis annunziata years ago when I had a problem with a flooding in my house she left me to fry in front of a board of people down at City Hall to whom I had complained because my city drains were broken she was supposed to show up at this meeting didn’t show up and send to student who is doing a placement at her office who had no idea what was going on and it was me against three guys from City Hall . I learned the hard way that she couldn’t really care less about what happens to the residents of this neighbourhood other than getting voted in again and after the experience I had with her and her minions I would have a hard time believing anything she says no matter what party where she represents

    1. I agree. She’s only ever put roadblocks in front of us too. Made life difficult. Given lip service and not even good lip service. If she’s voted out, the change in leadership here will be beneficial to all. She’s always had her favourites. They are inter-dependent. It’s a complete s**t show to watch.

  11. Has no one tried to get more mainstream media coverage on this? With a federal election around the corner, odds of getting some traction could be higher, depending on how the story is spun. Since Frances is canvassing with the Liberal candidate, outlets like Postmedia or (sigh) Rebel might be willing to pick it up (so long as they get to smite their enemies in the process. Perhaps even some less polarized outlets?

    Without applying pressure, Frances will most certainly not be held accountable for her role in this, nor will Weston be able to have a diverse and accessible Farmers Market, which the community both needs and deserves.

    If not outlets, perhaps a grassroots campaign. Make simple signs and posters with the poop emoji (with fleas flying around) captioned “Frances Nunziata’s Flea Market”, with a link to sign a petition that demands Weston be given what was promised.

    Without publicity and community awareness, no doubt it will be the same old same old. Instead of complaining, fight for what you believe in.

  12. Funny not a word from those that supported building John st rental tower, or artscape or even know it all worker bee.
    Let this be a lesson to those in Weston to never believe a politician, and to be worried about every single other tower that will be built in weston as they will most likely all be rental towers and weston will see no benefits.

  13. Frances Nunziata is notorious for politics first, talk, talk and then walk away.

    This is appalling. Where is she? Campaigning for our do-nothing MP who’s also famously inept (including his coziness with Erdogan).

    Promises made and forgotten, just like last year’s make-over. Shameful behaviour when the market has been struggling in its ‘temporary’ setting.

    We are your constituents, Ms Nunziata, not the Liberal party.

  14. It seems that too many of the wrong voices are being heard. Typical Weston. Afraid of change. Well guess what – you have a new transit hub and yes, that means change. Anyone not happy about having all-day, 15 minute service to downtown and the airport, please speak now? I didn’t think so. Well some of the voices you are listening to, opposed that train – that’s right. Keep that in mind.

    #1. Let me state for the record, that I was a vendor at the Farmers’ Market before I managed it for 7 long years – yes, 7 years. Some of you will remember The Coffee Pedlar that was set up beside Grandpa Ken? Other than John Kiru, I believe that makes me the longest serving Market Manager of them all. I also believe that makes me somewhat of a “resident expert” on at least the Weston Market. As a vendor, I did NOT work out of my car. I would have liked to – it would have been more convenient – but I unloaded and moved my vehicle out of the Market.

    #2. After I left the Market (and the BIA), I wrote a report for the Greenbelt Foundation that included an overview of all successful Markets in the GTA and beyond. I can assure you, that very few markets in Toronto, including the venerable St. Lawrence, have vendors that get to operate out of their vehicles. Full stop. Period. Our vendors were spoiled – yes, spoiled. In Toronto, only the Etobicoke Farmers’ Market – an empty parking lot on the weekend – allows vendors to work out of their trucks but I digress.

    #3. The GO parking lot was declared surplus when the GO station (and new UPX) moved south of Lawrence. When the RFP went out for that lot, it was with the proviso that any development include room for a SEASONAL farmers’ market AND a Community Cultural Hub. Enter Rockport. The ONLY developer to bid on that lot. Frankly, if Rockport hadn’t come along, it would have been eventually been developed but not included any of the above goodies. It would likely have become another cheap townhouse development with NO Farmers’ Market. Full stop.

    #4. While Joe Gaeta is an integral part of the ongoing success of the current Market, he like most of us, is not indispensable. There are other vendors out there – ones who will want to be involved in a Market in a new town square that will hopefully be able to spill out onto John Street for Saturdays, as the paving for that street, without curbs, has indicated, much like Market Street beside the St. Lawrence Market. I encourage all of you to go downtown to see Market Street – it is truly wonderful. I would hope that the very few vendors that actually do need to work out of their trucks, can set up there – on John Street. There is plenty of room for those that actually need to, rather than those that simply prefer to. Big difference.

    Some of you (no names, please) really need to stop complaining about something that is an improvement over what we would have had there and frankly, what we had – an underutilized, at-grade parking lot during the week. An eyesore by any other name. The Councillor should be praised for her progressive stand in bringing this development to the community and you should all be grateful. Yes, grateful. Full stop. Just stop.

    1. LOL…hogwash.

      Weston is NOT downtown. If you want downtown go live downtown.

      Someone that was an integral part of the farmers market(like Joe Gaeta) should not simply be dismissed. With the integral part of the market gone and with the bad reputation that Weston is getting, do you think any of the farmers will want to come to Weston?

      I am sorry, but the success of the Weston market was in part because it was not overpriced and “hippie” like the other farmer markets. The peach vendor the apple vendor the true maple syrup vendor at the Weston market are unique to Weston market. But they are gone now to be replaced by an expensive overpriced farmers market that is NOT unique and will not survive.

      I have visited most of the farmers markets in Toronto and Weston was by far the best prior to moving to the UP lot. You do not compare St.Lawrence to any other farmers market as that is completely different.

      The GO lot was needed and should of stayed a GO lot. There is NO parking at the GO/UP Station now.

      Why am I even trying to attempt to argue with someone who thinks they are right only???

      1. I guess you missed the part about my being a vendor at said Market as well as the Market Manager for 7 years. lol

        Again, narrow-minded Westonites who just don’t get it. Have you even visited the Artscape Weston Common? Do you know what’s going on there? Do you realize the podium of 33 King Street was vacant for over 40 years before that fantastic adaptive-reuse project breathed new life into a white elephant?

        Go, educate yourself – please. Then you can comment.

        1. great comeback.

          you were there over 10 years ago and I said it was good then…..I guess you can’t even read a compliment through your “I am great attitude”.

          Yes I have been to Weston Artscape a number of times and remain unimpressed.

          Weston lacks true leadership and no real planning – that’s the real issue.

          1. You also missed my part about change and how it in inherent in any major transportation project. If some of the community had gotten their way, the UPX might be running up the 427 now – no change necessary then. No growth, either. Nothing is ever static.

            My “I am great attitude?”. lol Well, at least I don’t hide behind a pseudonym – what are you afraid of? Nice to be able to throw insults around without being outed.

    2. The decision to evict Gaeta farms the day before market, during harvest, after all their years of feeding this community shows the board to be petty and vindictive.
      Full stop.

      1. I don’t think Gaeta Farms should have been evicted – especially with Thanksgiving at hand and the Market season nearly over. That being said, it is important to remember that it is the BIA that runs the Market, not a sole vendor, however valuable and long their tenure there.

        1. Less customers already at the Weston Village Market today. Ironic that Gaeta Farms if evicted one week before Thanksgiving. What does the B.I.A. actuallys stand for again?

    3. Laura, I admire you greatly, but you’re being very disingenuous by bringing the UPX into the discussion. It was because many of us in this community fought at every step of the way that Weston has it what has. Without that opposition, the UPX (or “Blue 22” as it was originally christened) wouldn’t have stopped here, would have run thru the neighbourhood at-grade every 15 minutes AND caused the closure of three cross streets at the tracks — John, King and Church. That also would have meant no new station. In your rush to try and defend a poorly-conceived development, you seem to have forgotten a few details along the way.

      As for what comes next, I think some of the ideas put forward in this forum are great and should be implemented, including the closure of parts of John and South Station each Saturday during market season.

      1. The idea of closing John Street on Saturday Market days was put forward long ago by myself and others, when this entire project was just a gleam in a few of our eyes, hence the Market Street paving planned for the street. I assume it is proceeding as planned. At least I haven’t heard otherwise. It was the Councillor who asked for it specifically for that reason – to be able to close down John Street easily.

        1. No. City Roads and Traffic have refused to close either street. The market will probably be bifurcated into the lot to the west and the common. If there are any vendors.

      2. Btw, I was at the initial meeting at City Hall with SNC Lavalin, Paul. I certainly have not forgotten about how the UPX came to stop in Weston or the fight I was part of. Nor have I forgotten how this “poorly conceived development” was the ONLY conceived development and involved approximately 47 different City departments to put it together. That is the fundamental problem with the NDP – as all they have ever known is to be in opposition, it makes it difficult for them to be in support of something that is clearly good. It’s why I’m completely non-partisan.

        1. What does being ndp have to with this topic???…….wow you really are all over the place…..anyways thanks for killing the market.

        2. You were at the second meeting. Not the first.

          And yes we in the NDP do oppose bad ideas. Like Blue 22. But clearly some thought it was a great idea. Time will tell whether a 30 storey rental building where some 1 bedroom units go for $2850 a month is a good thing for Weston. It has certainly caused tower contagion as all the developers are now asking for similar heights.

          BTW I am told that another application to close John St. is going in. Let’s hope this one is successful. John St. is the redesigned fire route for the building, though, so it may not be possible.

          1. That is a little disingenuous, Mike, because you know that there are 80+ subsidized units in that building. Why don’t you call Sean Gadon at the City to confirm the exact number and exact amount they are paying? In any event, it is more than what the Residents’ Association asked for.

            More towers being planned for Weston? lol Yes, well, welcome to the BIG city, where if you happen to be lucky enough to be located on a major transit hub/link, you can expect more of the same. Sigh…if you want to live in a small town, be my guest. There are lots of them in Ontario.

        3. Actually, Laura, much as we’d like it to be a major transit hub, neither Metrolinx nor TTC will allow it to be called that. Nor will they market it as one. Indeed once the Mount Dennis hub is opened, you can bet that our hub will face calls for reduced service or closure.

          The BIG city does not mean 30 storey towers on every corner. With the exception of the downtown core, Yonge and Eglinton, and the terminus of the subway, most subway stations are considered transit hubs of a kind and do not have a myriad of 30 storey towers in their neighbourhoods. They are still neighbourhoods. Ours is zoned for a maximum of 8 for a reason. And Weston, with one bank, no grocery store and no city community centre or city services of any kind can hardly support the residents it now has, let alone tens of thousands more in wind tunnel and shade makers.
          Jane Jacobs would not approve.

          As for the 79 reduced rent units, I am aware they exist. Their rents are set at 80% of average market rent for the entire city of Toronto. A senior on a good government pension would not qualify to rent one. And those units are only in place for 25 years.

  15. So, in conclusion…
    (ha-ha-ha)

    Visit or use the so-called farmer’s market (or the fabulous quick transit into the city or airport) and then cast a vote with your hard earned dollars in support of it, on a regular basis?

    Or if not, watch it die a slow & agonizing death – like the village’s Main Street?

    Adapt or die, sort of thing?
    (Like, closing off John Street, if that helps – given the circumstances?)

    Seems to me that if you visit any small town’s old “main drag” – anywhere and everywhere in Ontario – you’ll likely see something similar to what we’ve perhaps nurtured here, in Weston.

    Use it or lose it?

    Maybe.

    Some may remember that this may very well have started way back when that new & sexy, indoor shopping centre, Yorkdale was born – where it was reasonably easy to get to & shop for things that were quite often available right here in town.

    Yes, there were many Name brand shops coexisting with many quaint Mom & Pop shops on Main Street.

    At least, that’s what I remember seeing in this town when my folks moved us here, in’68.

    Funny what happens when people stop coming in to support & shop – you get 50 yrs of slow decay. And, lots of reminiscing.

    Weston’s not alone or unique that way.

    (And naturally, it doesn’t help one bit when a large employer like CCM pulls up stakes and moves. It was arguably Weston’s raison d’être.)

    So, adapt & cast a vote with your cash, if you value something like that farmer’s market – because if the money stops talking that bull is sure to start walking.

  16. In these incredibly polarized times (fingers pointing every which way, often rudely & crudely), it ain’t cool to muzzle someone – a member & stake holder, like Mr. Gaeta – who raises their voice to say, after all the effort & hard work over these long years, that there’s a short coming & room for improvement at this venue.

    And, that gag & muzzle manoeuvre is not exclusive to Red, Blue or Orange types.

    (But, Red & Blue have the most practice, don’t they.)

    1. Has anyone taken the Artist’s courtyard (in front of the live/work spaces) into consideration? That, too, can be part of the Market area on Saturdays so it’s not just limited to the Town Square area. From what I’ve seen of the Market lately, it should have no trouble fitting in there. Also, closing down John Street for a few hours on Saturday mornings should be incorporated into the total Market area (and a small part of South Station but only up to the old LCBO/Montessori School driveway – not sure what it is now?). That is something that was always part of the plan – if it’s not, the community needs to fight for it. When I closed down John Street for the Market (when we had a street festival along Weston Road), all the larger trucks fit perfectly on it. The smaller vendors need to unload and set up under tents on the Square. The point is, Artscape Weston Common is here to stay – you can either make it work, or you can complain about it. Anyway, I’ve put in my two cents and said my bit – I’m no longer running the Market so will defer to those who are.

        1. The point is that Artscape Weston Common won a Bild Toronto Award for Rockport in 2017 for Best Community Project (in development/under construction). When you’ve won an Award of any merit, please let the community in on it as we’d love to recognize you!

  17. (Eats popcorn while reading thread, eyes totally transfixed)

    Lots of interesting details, opinions, and drama in this action packed comments thread.

    Hopefully not too late – Who is the BIA?
    Not “what is” – I know what it is meant to do.

    Considering so much of this is due to their decision, it would be nice to know more. Presently, I’m picturing a bunch of distorted shadows behind podiums. I’m curious if the public will ever find out what really went down with this, or if the only access will be slick spin.

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