Rift growing between farmers’ market vendors

Peterborough, ON, Canada / CHEX TV
Rift growing between farmers' market vendors

The Peterborough Farmers’ Market resumes next month. However, recently there’s been a growing rift between some vendors and board members over what direction the market should take.

For nearly 3 decades products from McLean Berry Farm have been available at the Peterborough Farmers’ Market

“It’s a great community event – the Saturday market is a bustling market for the local community,” says former board president, and local farmer Sam McLean.

But McLean also says he and other local growers feel the farmers’ market needs to review its operating procedures. The last update was more than 30 years ago.

There were other requests too: professional audits, clear definitions of a local farmer, the hiring of a full-time market manager and balanced rules for both the Wednesday and the Saturday farmers’ markets.

McLean says any suggestions for change were rejected … so much so he quit after six months as board president.

“It was easier to leave than trying to beat my head against the wall trying to get things accomplished,” he told CHEX News.

He says other local growers are still voicing complaints and some are concerned that their permits might be revoked for voicing an opinion.

“I don’t see how or why – we’re voicing an tu-sequence-01-00_00_09_29-still003opinion and hopefully encouraging the market to improve their governance,” he says.

Market vendors have shared concerns with Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal.

But the province’s agriculture minister says he is not getting involved.

“Internal politics within the Peterborough Farmers’ Market are going to be resolved by the people within the Peterborough Farmers’ Market,” he says.

Lawyer John Dunn – who represents seven vendors – provided an email from City CAO Allan Seabrooke which indicates the city also wants clearer guidelines. The city also wants to a formalize a legal agreement with the market board next year since the market is held at the city-owned Morrow Park.

Seabrooke email: “… we have encouraged the Board to take this opportunity to work with the entire membership to review and follow its policies, operations and vision to ensure continued and future success.”

Joe Grant, a lawyer representing the Peterborough Farmers’ Market Corporation was unavailable for comment.

As for McLean, he has this to say:

“For a lot of people change is very difficult I think that market has been operating for 150 years or so maybe that’s ingrained that much in that market to not want to change.”

 

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