In response to the letter about the market and Kenny's produce.
I'm a farmer during the busiest time of the season, and I hope you will excuse the lack of editing or grammatical mistakes in my response here.
There's this thing happening at the market which i see as positive, which is that the market staff are working towards managing the market according to the market guidelines which have been set out to create a positive space for farmers to vend.
This article paints the "poor me" picture for the Kenney's produce folks, and I don't buy it. And I hope you don't either...
Here are the facts:
These folks have about 8x+ more space to vend than I do.
These folks have had all the same things on their table as I have been selling for the last few weeks (radishes, kale, lettuce, asparagus) despite the fact that they've been asked not to do this.
These folks have never asked me as a small farmer how they can mutually support me. (they are not necessarily wrong for this, just information to add to the facts)
There are farmers selling very affordable produce at this market, and farmers with affordability options, resellers are not the only affordable options.
There are farmers (like me) who would like to sell in winter, resellers aren't the only ones who can offer produce through the winter.
Some people would be upset if they couldn't buy avocados and oranges at the market (which I don't think is wrong, just adding to the facts).
It took me five years of advocating for our farm to get an indoor spot in fall/winter.
The market guidelines which I only recently familiarized myself with (such as the rule that resellers should not sell the same products as the farmers) have not been adhered to in the 5 years I've been growing for this market.
I know other growers who would love to sell at this market if it were a better place for growers to be.
(Opinion: It's a sh**** place to be a grower when compared to some of the well-managed markets that exist elsewhere. But I so appreciate the proximity to my farm and have been able to build up enough following for our farm that we are finally, in our 5th year, making what we aim to at market!)
Here are my opinions:
I want Guelph to eventually be a farmer-only market.
I want to transition to this over time, so that folks who are making a living as resellers don’t get screwed. But I believe their livelihoods are no longer supportive to the local food scene.
I don't buy that Kenny's needs so much space to make a living, I can offer some creative solutions.
If most of us farmers are seasonal, why is it such a big deal currently for a reseller who goes year round to have to reduce some of their table when more farmers are present? They have so many staff at their booth- surely they could transition to fewer staff and less space.
I support the market 100 per cent in finally acknowledging this and making a move on this.
The female market managers are not properly respected by the vendors who have been around for many years. I also have been intimidated - and when I arrived to find another vendor in my spot a couple weeks back I had one of the (worst) market mornings of my life trying to get across the point that I should be allowed to eke out some space for my farm and livelihood.
The vendors who have been around for many years are not humble or shown willingness to change - and this creates a stalemate in the evolution of the market.
I’m not opposed to a small booth of resellers with truly non-local stuff that “owns” with clear signage that they are not farmers, and doesn’t sell anything farmers have.
I need more than one damn booth of space. I can’t breathe in my spot.
This gets me wound up because I stand for a farmer-supporting market in my community!
Go to the market. Check out how much space Kenny’s has compared to me. I know they’ve been around four times longer than I have but I have a hard time buying that they really care about create a vibrant, farmer-supporting market?
I sure as hell haven't seen this market support and prioritize farmers in the ways that it should over the last five years.