Group Of Seven Terminated From Peterborough Farmers’ Market

[UPDATED POST, May 3rd]

Here is a press release that was just issued on behalf of evicted vendors by Julie Fleming...

"Stunned local farmers are wondering how they’ve been kicked out of the Peterborough Saturday Market after combined decades of providing their community with fresh local food.

In December, just days before Christmas, seven local vendors were given notice of a special meeting to determine whether or not they should be removed from the market.

The board claimed that 16 unnamed vendors had demanded this meeting. On January 8th the membership heard charges against one vendor, Astrid Manske of OtonaBee Apiary. She was allowed to defend herself, and after her defence, the market members voted to keep Astrid at the market.

The other accused vendors were not given an opportunity to defend themselves. The meeting was adjourned and all complaints from the anonymous 16 vendors against the remaining accused were withdrawn. With the complaints withdrawn, the remaining vendors felt a sense of relief that this battle was over and they could all get back to work.
 
So if the membership voted to keep the market whole, and the public spoke out against eviction of local farmers from farmers’ markets, why have 'pink slips' actually been issued?

The answer can only rest with the PDMA Board who have gone rogue over the wishes of the farmers' market members. The eviction order was issued by the PDMFA Board.

The board of the PDMFA are Cindy Hope (Cross Wind Farms), President, Mark Jones (T&R Jones) Marketing Manager, Jill Staples (Staples Maple Syrup) and Jan Laurie (The Sprout house).  

In the eviction notices issued by the PDFMA Board and delivered on Tuesday, the five remaining vendors all received the same letter citing vague allegations of harm to the market’s reputation generated through their 'pink slip' campaign of last December. These were precisely the same bald (and unjustified) allegations that were put forward as the basis for the special meeting last December.

These local farmers never wanted this fight. They wanted a fairly-organized venue to sell their food. The market wasn’t organized fairly and they spoke up inside the organization. They spoke up for fairness, transparency and proper governance. They joined the board, they wrote letters, they shared their concerns. They followed the 'proper channels', but in doing this they were ostracized and targeted as trouble makers. The proper channels at the Saturday Peterborough Farmers’ Market are broken. There was no need to toss anyone off the market. The evicted vendors feel that there is room for re-sellers and a wide variety of local farmers at the Saturday market, but transparency and honesty are non-negotiable.

More information on how the public can help to save local farmers at farmers' markets will be forthcoming."

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ORIGINAL POST (May 2nd)

Just days before the Saturday outdoor market season is set to begin, the "Group of Seven" as they are known has received notice that they have been terminated from the Peterborough Farmers’ Market.

All these local vendors—Circle Organic, Otonabee Apiary, Ashburnham Farms Gaelic Garlic, Finest Gourmet Fudge, Chef Marshal and Necessitea Elixir—have been handed their pink slip from the Peterborough Farmers’ Market Board.  

 Photo courtesy McLean Berry Farm

Photo courtesy McLean Berry Farm

One of the evicted vendors, Buckhorn's McLean Berry Farm, has been a staple at the Saturday Farmers Market in Peterborough since 1991—the year Jane and Sam McLean bought the farm, and started attending the market.

"We're very disheartened to have received this eviction notice days before our season starts," Eric McLean from McLean Berry farm tells PTBOCanada. "All we want to do is provide our local communities with fresh fruits and vegetables. We said before that we won't stop fighting for local food and we will continue to do so but need a moment to pause and consider all of our options of how best to move forward as this has really caught us off guard."

More info coming on Wednesday when a press release goes out from Erin McLean, Astrid Manske and Julie Fleming on behalf of the expelled vendors.

We have not received a press release from the Peterborough Farmers' Market board as of yet.

UPDATE: McLean Berry Farm posted this statement on Facebook about what they describe as "a very cloudy and unknown time"...

Hundreds of comments are pouring in our Facebook page. Go here to add yours.

This is a developing story. Check back for more info.

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