Let us demand equity in ALL the farmers markets of OntarioPeterborough Examiner Dear Editor:
I have signed the online petition in support of the unjustly treated Peterborough vendors. I have been a vendor in numerous farmers markets since 2002. I have an intimate knowledge of the troubles that afflict them.
I would ask the citizens of Peterborough to raise their sights. I urge them to consider the farmers and other vendors who are treated unfairly in dysfunctional markets across the entire province. Our focus should not be local.
In markets controlled by interest groups—hijacked markets— vendors typically have no say in anything that might threaten those in control, even though there may be a formal structure with by-laws and elections. Only the brave will speak up, and they will be accused of “disruption.”
Shame on mayors and councillors who say that the vendors can sort it out by themselves. This is just not true.
The worst outcome in Peterborough, apart from the de facto expulsion of those fighting for fairness, trust, and transparency in the market, would be some sort of unholy accommodation which settles nothing—and which does nothing to help the dysfunctional markets in the rest of this province.
The Town has the power to at least partially resolve this issue for Peterborough. It does not need to run the market. All it needs to do is put through a by-law prohibiting the resale of produce. Other towns have done this.
Why should produce resellers be excluded from the market? Because the produce reseller must rely on deception. Market visitors are unlikely to buy produce if they understand that they can get the same produce cheaper at the supermarket. No wonder produce resellers squirm and connive to avoid being unambiguously identified. (please google my letter to the Gravenhurst Banner: “Fake farmers selling food terminal produce.”)
But excluding produce resellers will not stop others from wanting to control a market, in order to gain unfair advantage — which is why market directors should not be vendors, but should be trusted members of the community, who can be relied on to come to the board table without bias.
We urgently need a solution that fixes ALL dysfunctional markets across the province. The alternative is to see our community markets forever held hostage to the unprincipled among us.
A solid start would be to petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, to request that the Assembly set the rules for farmers markets in this province. The rules would be based upon comprehensive answers to questions such as: What is a farmers market? Who belongs there? How should it be governed? How do we ensure that the rules will be followed?
A petition to the Assembly may not be signed online, and all who sign must reside in Ontario. Let us organize for the purpose of composing and distributing such a petition. I am willing. Who else? Please email me. Let's get started.
Wendel Messer Gravenhurst, Ontario (705) 687-8149 email@example.com
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