Killaloe Farmers’ Market overcomes Council’s ban

Instead of operating at Hoch Farm as it has done since 2000, the Killaloe’s Farmers Market will be open for business during 2020 at the Killaloe & Area Lions’ ball field on Lions Lane in Killaloe. Market hours are every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting July 4th and continuing until Thanksgiving .  Directions: From Hwy. 60 take Queen Street (flashing light) towards Killaloe; turn left up Lions Lane (Mike’s Tire Service on corner). Above: Killaloe Heritage & Ecology Society volunteers move tents to Lions field

The move to a new location came about after Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards Township’s new Community Developer, Christopher Neff, presented Council on May 28 with his recommendation that, based on his research and after “serious consideration,” the Farmers’ Market and Community Gardens should not be held at the municipally-owned Hoch Farm site in 2020 for the following reasons : 

  • It is an overwhelming liability.
  • The user experience will be poor.
  • Cost vs. Profit for vendors.
  • Bad image for municipality.

Source: C.Neff presentation to KHR Council May 28 2020

The research he referred to failed to include consultation with any of the Farmers Market organizers or vendors. The first the Farmers’ Market organizers at KHES knew about the decision was when they received an email from Neff on June 5 saying, “As you may have heard council has voted to not move forward with the Farmers Market this year. I am very sorry to have to tell you this but with Covid-19, the regulations, the cost to vendors, the liability to KHR and ultimately the restrictions on what vendors can participate, I felt it was not the right time to open the market and council agreed unanimously.” He suggested that vendors pursue online sales and said that neighbouring Madawaska Valley would welcome them at its markets until the vendors had retooled for internet sales.

KHES Market Convenor Lynne Postill responded to Neff by email saying, “I am not sure how in your “intensive research” you missed talking to the convenors of the Farmers’ Market? If you had, you would have learned that the Market is not owned by the Council and that in order operate we are obliged to follow three sets of regulations: those of the [Renfrew County & District Health Unit] RCDHU; insurance; and whilst we operate at Hoch Farm, the lease that we have with the Council. We have operated under these rules and regulations to everybody’s satisfaction for the last 20 years. We only report to Council because of the terms of the lease.”

Postill went on to inform Neff, “I am wondering, as usual, why the KHR Council is not working to enable us to operate, when the other local Councils are doing all they can to enable their markets to operate.” In her email she reminded him that KHES volunteers provide the labour and raise funds to maintain the site, operate its community museum, encourage fledgling businesses, hold an on-site recycle/re-use depot in the barn, and that KHES was commended by MP Cheryl Gallant for enabling volunteerism.   

The Current reached out to both Neff and Mayor Janice Visneskie-Moore for comment, who confirmed that the main reason behind Council’s decision revolved around “liability.” No reason was given to explain why the same concerns would not also apply to Madawaska Valley. 

Faced with Council’s decision at short notice, the Farmers’ Market organizers (all KHES volunteers) quickly went to work to find a new landlord. As in former years, they liaised with the RCDHU on COVID-19 health and safety requirements, and obtained the necessary permissions to hold the market at a venue that was not municipally-owned.

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What to expect at Killaloe Farmers’ Market this season

Vendors will be farther apart at the new site, the Killaloe and Area Lions’ Club ball field, and shopper traffic will be controlled via an entry gate staffed by volunteers. The required sanitizing stations will be available, and KHES volunteers will conduct the necessary washroom cleaning. Initially only vendors providing food products were allowed by the province but the latest provincial regulations means that crafters are now also welcome. Both vendors and shoppers are requested to observe provincial guidelines for physical distancing, hand-washing, masks, etc.

Vendors can get more details and pre-register by calling 613-717-3740.

 

Photos Killaloe Heritage & Ecology Society

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