The Peterborough & District Farmers’ Market Association (PDFMA) has recently taken notice of media discussion surrounding the Board’s decision not to renew some vendors’ applications for stall space at the Saturday Market. Some of this discussion appears grounded on some misconceptions, which the PDFMA is intent on addressing.
The mandate of the Peterborough Farmers’ Market is to contribute to the sustainability of agriculture by enhancing access to fresh, local Ontario produce and goods, and by fostering a lively and diverse market that inspires relationships between farmers, entrepreneurs and the community. Our vision is to be a prospering year-round marketplace destination that educates consumers and connects them with a network of new and generational food growers and producers. The PDFMA’s mandate has been thus formulated for decades.
The PDFMA is committed to making sure that shoppers have ready access to locally grown or produced goods at the market. Accordingly, over 2/3 of vendors at the market are farmers who sell locally grown or produced goods, which they may grow themselves or sell on behalf of other local producers. This has not changed, and it will not change.
As part of its mandate, the PDFMA is also committed to ensuring diversity of products on a year-round basis. Because the Peterborough region does not grow every kind of agricultural product, and because of Peterborough’s shorter growing season, the PDFMA’s commitment necessarily entails that some of its vendors come from other places in Ontario. Some of those vendors also grow and produce their own goods; others who come from away sell goods and products on behalf of other Ontario growers.
It is the PDFMA’s role to strike a balance between, on the one hand, ensuring access to locally grown and produced food and, on the other hand, ensuring diversity on a year-round basis. To strike this balance, the PDFMA is committed to keeping shoppers informed about where products are grown and who grows them. To this end, the PDFMA has developed and deployed a signage policy which helps individual shoppers make the choices that are right for them. It is important that the signage policy in place be consistent with the PDFMA’s mandate to ensure access to local food and access to diverse products year-round; it is equally important that its signage portray vendors and their products fairly. Any allegation that the market includes vendors who resell produce they obtained from elsewhere, without explicit advertising telling customers where the food comes from, is simply false. Our market signage policy is explained in detail here: https://www.peterboroughfarmersmarket.com/market-infomation/market-news/ . The signage policy applies to every vendor.
Regarding the five vendors whose applications for market space were not renewed, there appears to be a misconception that their applications were not renewed because they are local growers and producers. Like the majority of vendors at the Peterborough market, these five vendors sell locally grown or produced goods. Some of the five do so exclusively, others among the five do not. Some only sell products they grow themselves, others do not. The five vendors whose applications were not renewed are no different than most vendors at the Peterborough Market in this regard. Any allegation that these five vendors’ applications were declined because they sell local products is patently false.
When vendors are approved to occupy market space at Morrow Park, they are required to abide by a set of rules and regulations. These rules and regulations ensure that the market runs smoothly and that vendors cooperate with each other in a spirit of mutual respect. Among other provisions, the rules require that vendors understand, support and promote the Peterborough Market’s mission statement which, as set out above, is to enhance access to fresh, local Ontario produce and goods, as well as fostering a lively and diverse market. The rules also require that vendors treat each other with respect, courtesy and fairness. Though the PDFMA welcomes all points of view in how market affairs are run, disagreement must be voiced in accordance with the market’s rules and regulations, as is the case for any other organization. The market cannot run smoothly and efficiently if vendors attack the market or each other in the media. The market cannot run smoothly if vendors actively campaign to dismantle the market’s governing body. The market cannot run smoothly if vendors consistently misinform the media and the public about its operations.
The decision to decline these vendors’ applications was not made lightly. The PDFMA is acutely aware of the impact of its decision on shoppers, on the community and on the vendors themselves. However, the opportunity to sell goods at the Peterborough Market is a right, and a privilege. The board of the PDFMA is entrusted by its members to make difficult decisions with a view to ensure that vendors can work as a team to foster a safe and positive community atmosphere where people can gather to shop, socialize and meet old friends. The PDFMA stands by its decision.
Board of Directors
Peterborough District Farmers’ Market Association