Mar­ket a ter­mi­nal vendor-free zone

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - TIM MEEKS THE INTELLIGENCER

The Belleville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket is a ter­mi­nal vendor-free zone.

A re­cent CBC Mar­ket­place re­port on farm­ers’ mar­kets across On­tario sug­gests some ven­dors are dup­ing cus­tomers by mak­ing claims the pro­duce they were sell­ing was grown lo­cally when in fact it was be­ing pur­chased at Toronto’s On­tario Food Ter­mi­nal – Canada’s largest whole­sale mar­ket – and then resold for profit at lo­cal farm­ers mar­kets.

There are no pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions any­where in Canada against re­selling at farm­ers’ mar­kets, so it’s left to each in­di­vid­ual mar­ket to set and en­force its own rules. Some mar­kets pro­hibit or limit re­selling but the ma­jor­ity do not.

But Jackie Tapp, of Pic­ton – a vendor at the Belleville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket for 27 years – says that’s not the case in Belleville.

“Back in the 1990s when the city still op­er­ated the Farm­ers Mar­ket there were sev­eral ter­mi­nal ven­dors. They were bring­ing in huge loads from the ter­mi­nal, skids of wa­ter­mel­ons and things like that. But when the farm­ers took over op­er­a­tion of the mar­ket and rewrote the rules, a grand­fa­ther clause was put in place for ex­ist­ing ter­mi­nal ven­dors, but no new ones were al­lowed at the mar­ket. It’s been more than a decade since all of the ter­mi­nal ven­dors ei­ther re­tired or passed away, so we’ve been a ter­mi­nal vendor-free mar­ket for a long time.”

Eden Oter­holm is run­ning a cam­paign to make it eas­ier to dis­tin­guish and sup­port lo­cal prod­ucts at Belleville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket.

She says over nearly two cen­turies the lo­cal mar­ket “has grown, adapted and changed. It is time for it to change again. We want to make it eas­ier to sup­port our lo­cal pro­duc­ers.”

Oter­holm says her cam­paign re­quests the word ‘lo­cal’ be clearly de­fined in the rule hand­book for the Belleville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, as items pro­duced within the Bay of Quinte re­gion. Cur­rently in On­tario the word ap­plies to all pro­duce grown in the prov­ince.

“We re­quest that any prod­ucts from out­side the Bay of Quinte re­gion and/or be­ing resold in this mar­ket should clearly state where they were pro­duced. This will al­low con­sumers to have a clear choice to sup­port prod­ucts grown and pro­duced in this im­me­di­ate area and fa­cil­i­tate in sup­port­ing and en­cour­ag­ing lo­cal farms.”

Other re­quests in­clude:

• A re­view by the city to en­sure all ven­dors are com­ply­ing with the cur­rent rule that re­selling is to be lim­ited to 35 per cent of the sell­ers prod­uct line.

• That the mar­ket be opened to other lo­cally pro­duced prod­ucts to di­ver­sify the of­fer­ings avail­able such as lo­cal craft bev­er­ages. Which are now al­lowed to be sold at On­tario farm­ers mar­kets as of Feb. 18, 2016.

• That the Belleville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket slowly re­duces the amount of re­selling of items and re­place th­ese items or ven­dors with prod­ucts pro­duced within the Bay of Quinte re­gion.

Stir­ling’s Lau­ren Nurse, who farms six-and-a-half acres, told Mar­ket­place she re­lies on farm­ers’ mar­kets as a source of in­come. She says farm­ers’ mar­ket cus­tomers “should be able to have con­fi­dence in the food they’re buy­ing and who they’re buy­ing it from.” She sid ven­dors who pur­chase pro­duce at the On­tario Food Ter­mi­nal for re­sale un­der­mine the in­dus­try.

“Peo­ple are be­ing duped,” she said. “There’s no dif­fer­ence between food that you buy at the gro­cery store and food at the farm­ers’ mar­ket if it all comes from the food ter­mi­nal.”

Tapp, who along with Tammy Carter – a 10-year vet­eran of the lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket – ad­min­is­ter the Belleville Farm­ers’ Mar­ket Face­book page, in­sists that’s not hap­pen­ing in Belleville.

“All the ven­dors here sell only items that they pro­duced them­selves or are sup­ple­mented with prod­ucts pro­duced by friends and neigh­bours in the Quinte re­gion. We’re just farm­ers help­ing farm­ers,” Tapp said.

“There is no way I could sur­vive with just sell­ing my baked goods and that’s why we get sup­port from friends and neigh­bours. We’re self em­ployed, so we have no med­i­cal or den­tal plans, so we have more costs rais­ing our fam­i­lies,” Tapp said.

Re­gard­ing Oter­ham’s cam­paign, Carter thinks “she’s try­ing to di­vide us. I’m the mod­er­a­tor for our Face­book page and try to keep peo­ple civil, but it’s been crazy the past few weeks.”

“(Oter­holm) is en­ti­tled to her opin­ion, but her opin­ion should at least be right,” Carter said. “There are no problems here. A farm­ers’ mar­ket is not a su­per­mar­ket. Peo­ple come here to sup­port lo­cal farm­ers and to meet with friends over cof­fee. I’ve been here for 10 years now and I’ve met some won­der­ful peo­ple and fam­i­lies. I couldn’t have done that work­ing as a cashier in a su­per­mar­ket.”

TIM MEEKS/THE INTELLIGENCER

The Belleville Farm­ers' Mar­ket has been in op­er­a­tion for nearly 200 years. Ven­dors who pur­chase pro­duce at the On­tario Food Ter­mi­nal in Toronto — Canada's largest whole­sale mar­ket — are not wel­come in the Mar­ket Square. "It's all about lo­cal farm­ers help­ing lo­cal farm­ers," says vet­eran vendor Jackie Tapp, of Pic­ton (at right).

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