Customers browse the Southgate Community Farmers' Market in a previous year. Social distancing will make the market look and feel different in 2020. Photo by Samantha Erin Photography.
BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — Vendors are excited that the Flesherton and District Farmers' Market (FDFM) and Southgate Community Farmers' Market (SCFM) will finally reopen full-shop markets through July and August.
Despite being classified as essential businesses, farmers' markets across the province have had a difficult time reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipalities and Health Units have often shown more caution than support for open-air markets that primarily sell locally grown and produced food.
On June 5, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman felt it necessary to send a letter to Farmers' Markets Ontario (FMO) which clarified his position to lower level administrators. "Farmers’ markets are valued members of our food supply chain throughout the province, giving people easy access to local food and other local products," he said. "They would be captured by the list of essential businesses if they are primarily selling food," he added. Both the FDFM and SCFM fall under this category, however full-shop markets were not enthusiastically endorsed by local governments and agencies.
With health and safety protocols and policies in place, some farmers' markets across the province took the only course that was allowed to them and reopened to a new business model. Using an online platform supported by the Greenbelt Farmers' Market Network (GFMN), only orders taken on a website store, have been available for pickup at a designated site, weekly.
Since May 30, the FDFM has operated such a market using Leela's Villa Inn as their pickup location, after being denied their usual place at the Flesherton Arena. "Customers have really appreciated our efforts to get the market up and running in whatever capacity," said Market Manager, Ron Barnett. "But everyone is anxious for a more fulsome market to return."
The SCFM has taken a more cautious approach, waiting and working with the Township of Southgate staff and Council to plan a later reopening. Organizers have also developed their own website store to take orders online which is planned to go live June 30. "We're very grateful for the full support of the Township of Southgate staff and Councillors," said Angie Beattie, one of the market's organizers.
Using a combination of online ordering with a full-shop experience, both markets will operate their new business models in early July. The FDFM will set up at the pavilion and arena parking lot in Flesherton starting Saturday, July 4 while the SCFM will start online ordering on June 30 with the first weekly pickup on Wednesday, July 8 at the Lion's Pavilion adjacent to Highpoint Campground at Memorial Park, 220 Owen Sound St. in Dundalk. Southgate's physical market will start sometime in early August with the exact date to be determined following appropriate public health approval.
To pre-order from the Flesherton market, visit www.fleshertonfarmersmarket.ca. Beginning June 30, to pre-order from the Southgate market, visit www.localline.ca/southgate-community-farmers-market
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