Hamilton Farmer’s Market A-list

November 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

An article in the Spectator today gave voice to some of the disgruntled vendors that have found their applications for space in the newly renovated Hamilton Farmer’s Market denied. The market will be re-opening in the spruced up location in January. 23 current stall-holders have not been selected to return. This decision was made based on a points system that awarded points for local food (30 points) and for previous market experience (5 points), among other categories.

(from messersmith.name)

A lot of the rejected vendors are upset that their experience and years of Hamilton Farmer’s Market service have been devalued, but it seems that the market is undergoing these changes to make the market include more local food and increased diversity among the products sold. Anna Bradford, the city’s director of culture, said, “Over the years, there were many vendors selling the exact same things — and a lot of it was coming through the Ontario food terminal. What we’re trying to do is make decisions that are based on the customer. Lots of variety, lots diversity of fresh products, and valuing local farmers and food producers.”

On the Spectator’s website, 63% of the people who voted in a poll said that they do not support the city’s decision to prioritize quality and diversity over market seniority. But I’m not so sure…

My Grapevine radio co-host Alex Bissley and I met with Red Hill Coffee Trade’s Jason Hofing and Chris this week, who have just been accepted into the farmer’s market. They will have a coffee bar selling freshly roasted Fair Trade coffee, both freshly brewed and for home brewing. Their company is so awesome, and I think that they totally deserve to have a spot in the farmer’s market. If that means pushing out one of the vendors who sold California produce, I’m okay with that.

However I do think it’s pretty harsh to notify these vendors only two months before the opening. Considering the renovations have been going on for a while, couldn’t they have received more notice?

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this. Clearly a lot of people are very angry. But I do think that moving towards a more local food market is a good idea, and that inviting applications for new vendors (like Red Hill) was a good move. It encourages innovation and competition, which in any market is a good thing. Now vendors have to provide quality, local food to compete, and that supports local agriculture and farmers.

Share your comments, let me know what you think!

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