Growing And Green
If there was ever a clear indication about the impact that local food initiatives are having in Eastern Ontario and specifically North Grenville, it was Tuesday night April 21st at the Branch restaurant where the annual Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers Market Info Night took place.
There were 45 people in attendance, which according to several members of the executive of the farmers’ market was the largest turnout that they’ve seen in the market’s nine year history. A joke was made about how if the event grew any more that they’d have to find a bigger venue. There appeared to be a significant number of first timers who wanted to learn all about the market. Bruce Enloe, past president of the market, started the evening off with a re-telling of the humble origins of the farmers market which began in the parking lot of his restaurant, to its current location in the B&H parking lot beside the old Giant Tiger building at the corner of Rideau Street and Oxford Street in Old Town Kemptville.
After Bruce, Denise Busby walked all potential vendors through a slideshow presentation about the market, including the rules and regulations for all vendors including how at each market there must be a minimum of 51% agriculture vendors and also how all products sold at the market must be made by the vendors themselves. She also gave some helpful advice to some first time vendors about things like getting to know other vendors & working together to help each other, to setting up their tables well back from the edge of their awnings so that customers can browse in the shade or be kept dry by the awning in case of rain. At the end of her presentation, there was a question and answer period where some questions about pricing and acceptable product offerings amongst other things were discussed. Last year, there were some serious concerns about the market moving to its current location, but those people have now been won over by the success of last year’s market and the fantastic support of Jim Beveridge.
The market is looking at significant expansion this season and have changed the footprint of the previous season slightly and could now accommodate as many as 60 vendors. Rob Harsh of the executive and the director who looks after the layout (amongst several other things) could have a big job on his hands this year planning the layout every week as the market has already received 25 full season applications and five weekly ones with more confirmed applications still coming in. This season’s fees for the market will be $180 for the full season (branded market apron included), $160 for the full season for a returning vendor and $25 for a weekly permit. There’s also a free spot every week for a community group who wants to tell people about their organization or an event they have coming up. One person at the meeting said that there was a rumour that the North Gower Farmer’s Market was going to charge as much as three times the fees of the Kemptville market. So, if you’re at all interested in becoming a vendor, fill out the vendor application at www.kemptvillefarmersmarket.wordpress.com or visit their Facebook page “Kemptville Kinsmen Farmers’ Market” and follow the link from there. It sounds like the best value in the area for vendors.
This year’s season starts on May 24th during the Dandelion Festival and runs through until Thanksgiving Day in October. There will also be a number of events going on throughout the season like the perennial favourite ‘MarketPlates’ among others. Watch for more news on events in the coming weeks.
With what sounds like a bigger marketing budget for the farmers’ market this year, it appears that the market is primed to take the next step towards promoting itself to people outside the municipality and to start creating local food tourism which would have enormous economic potential for the area. With the eventual addition of the ‘Markets on Rideau’ project in the Giant Tiger building, it appears that local food has never been ‘healthier’ in North Grenville.