Hamilton Farmers’ Market: Take two

November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Another article came out about the Hamilton Farmers’ Market this weekend in the Hamilton Spectator. The first line reads: “The city says Hamilton Farmers’ Market needs to attract young families and hip urbanites in order to survive.” I’m sure that the Public Space Department will have a field day with this article (for the record, I do not support that organization).

The article goes on to say: “The market currently has a loyal base of customers who are ethnically diverse, slightly older, and who live nearby. But this base isn’t enough to ‘sustain the market’s operations into the future,’ according to a consultants report commissioned by the city.” Okay, the market isn’t sustaining itself economically. But the way that the city articulates their new vision to include attracting “people who work downtown, younger households and families, and others who want a trendy shopping experience” is a little worrying.

The potential problem here is that what was once an affordable market for fresh produce will become a trendy, yuppie market and as a consequence, prices are going to rise.

Emma Reilly goes on to write: “Diversifying the products at the market is positive for shoppers who choose to go, but it also eliminates some competition between stallholders. That could lead to price hikes — an issue that will have an effect on the market’s low-income shoppers who live and shop downtown.”

Tom Cooper, the director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, and Anna Bradford, the city’s director of culture, both seem to think that this won’t necessarily exclude low-income shoppers though.

Time can only tell how the market will change once it’s reopened. I just hope that it doesn’t resemble the Covent Market in London, Ontario. I’ve only been once and it was the winter, but instead of local produce and food, the majority of the market (from what I remember) was chocolate, sushi, flowers, crafts and prepared food.

Alex and I will be talking to Caroline, who runs the Ottawa Street Market on The Grapevine on November 26th. Hopefully she can offer her insight on some of the decisions that the city has made.

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