by William J. Langenberg, Grenville Herb Farm
“Farmers Market Ontario” came up with the idea of introducing a course to certify market vendors. That idea brings us dangerously close to licensing. Over the years, I have seen young vendors coming to the Kemptville Farmers’ Market to figure out if they could sell their home-made product at their local market. It’s a start-up challenge. Some last, some don’t. Selling at farmers’ markets is a horizontal marketing experience; no middleman involved – directly from “farm to fork”. Selling at a farmers market is developing a relationship between the vendor and the customer.
The Kemptville Farmers’ Market is unique for me, because I have two former Kemptville College students selling produce alongside me. That makes me proud; because I feel that we are family.
For years, my wife and I have been buying fresh strawberries from a local grower who is well into his 80s. We established a relationship. Last year, since we make our own jam, we gave him a couple of jars (no label on it). He was impressed with the jam, made from his own berries.
Farmers markets are one of the few industries left in this country that is unregulated. I made a trip to St. Jacobs a few years ago, stopping at every road stand, buying produce. It’s a unique family experience that can last as long as it is unregulated.
Back in the mid-80s, while teaching at Kemptville College, I had a couple of young farm boys in my class, fresh from the Netherlands. I asked them what brought them to Canada. “Over-regulation of farming and marketing practices” was their answer. Thirty years later, I am bothered by the fact that Ontario is taking over this trend, making it more difficult for a young farmer and/or gardener to make their farming start-up successful.
There are not that many local sales outlets left where you can make a purchase, get advice, and service with a smile.
I have no problem buying food from a stall that resells…as long as I know the deal. Planting..tending..harvesting..is as much a part of the process as taking goods to market. Some folks are better at one than the other. I consider it a collaboration..as long as the seller transparent as to what part they play in the process.