A quick promo of Saturday’s Weston Farmers Market official opening generated a flurry of correspondence. It seems that CBC Marketplace’s investigative piece on 11 Ontario farmers markets found that while produce re-selling takes place at most markets, misrepresentation about the source of produce was found at several. A clip from the show focussed on a Peterborough Farmers Market trader picking up produce from the Ontario Food Terminal and disguising it as farmed by himself or ‘someone across the road’.
Incidentally, Weston Farmers Market was not mentioned in the CBC article or the TV show that was broadcast last year. Here’s the letter of the week from ‘ANNON’ and the response.
I am a concerned customer… reaching out to you for the third time. Hoping someone with a bigger voice than me can help the market grow into a respected farmers market. Help the area Ive lived in for decades grow. Lets start change.
A “FARMERS MARKET” requires 51% farmers. Selling 65% of their own produce. Its more like a flea market. Do your research people deserve to know the truth. In Ontario FARMERS must state where the produce is grown in. If you are a farmer selling produce, honey, maple syrup or eggs even smoke meats and claim to be a farmer or your product comes from a farm… your product must have be displayed where the product is grown or harvested in.
Customers should know the truth. Lets talk about the truth behind the scam of farmers markets. Lets not let sonority of old vendors have the rights to sell fake local produce. Lets start a market where customers can truly buy local produce. The whole point of a farmers market is to support local business and farmers and support the Canadian economy. Give a chance to farmers from our GTA to sell their produce not for fake farmers to refill their trucks at the Ontario Food terminal and resell it to customers passing it off as fresh local produce. The market turns 39 years old and the longest running farmers market there is… Don’t you feel like its time for change, the customers deserve to know the truth.
The company I use to work for CBC has broken the ice. I would hate for my area to go down just like Peterborough is right now.
Here’s the reply from Suri Weinberg-Linsky who has close links to the market and is a Weston business owner (Squibbs).
Just a clarification: vendors like brothers Sam and Joe, who are considered ‘resellers’, also have contracts with actual farmers who they meet up with at the Terminal where the farmers are bringing their produce to sell. Not all their product is ‘stickered’ – I know because I asked Sam last year. Farmers cannot always go out to Markets and rely on vendors like Sam and Joe to sell the product for them. So it is from the farm, just not sold by the actual farmer. And the Gaetas don’t grow their own corn but buy from another farmer who cannot attend the market – a win-win for both Joe and his farmer friend.
And our Market never really gets into full gear until the local crops come in which is later in June and early July. We have vendors/farmers who will bring their produce once it’s available. Also remember the season is late this year because of the weather. Peaches, etc. won’t be available until that time. Our apple guy is the farmer and his kids work with him – very nice family. The bakers do their own product. Honey person has their own hives (as far as I am aware). Thames Valley Farms are farmers. Ted Vos with eggs from his hens. Asha from Wiff (across from the Market) makes all the samosas. Perfect Blend with their coffee.
So right now, other than the Tupperware and Grandpa Ken, most of the people there produce their product like the apples, eggs, flowers & plants, pastries, coffee, fresh strawberries today along with the onions, scapes and fresh jams, etc. Even the popcorn guy was making it fresh. And we have always had antique vendors, information booths, etc. So not sure why people are complaining. Other than the signs with the wrong spelling. We should be more concerned with why people aren’t coming to support the market. The busier it is, the more vendors will want to come… don’t you think?
Sadly, the CBC show may have caused more harm than good by making people suspicious of all traders. The bottom line seems to be that until legislators tighten up reselling rules (unlikely under President Ford™), market visitors should get to know vendors and talk about the origins of what they sell.
The bottom line: the vast majority of Weston’s farmers market traders are honest about what they sell. Supporting genuine producers will ensure that they stick around.