The Farmers’ Market Troubadour #1 – Carleton Place Farmers’ Market; Story Time: “What a Shame”

Hey folks–

Welcome to the Farmers’ Market Troubadour newsletter number one!  Over the next few months I will be bringing my guitar and my book of songs to a dozen or so farmers’ markets, mostly in driving distance of my home market The Kemptville Farmers’ Market, where I have been involved since the beginning and am currently active as the Community Liaison.

My plan is to bring a regular stories, some pictures and maybe an opinion or two to this project– and my hope is to help build the community of farmers’ markets, vendors, customers, enthusiasts and music lovers into a network.  

I describe myself to the world as a chef, author and musician–this blog is a chance to share all three of those passions in one place.  Welcome, and I hope to see you all at a market somewhere soon!

The Market:

covered market!

This week I played music at the Carleton Place Farmers’ Market on their opening day!! Business was a bit slow as the word is still getting out about the season, and the weather was a little finger numbing, but overall I had a blast playing from 10-12 with a short break in the middle.  Market hours are 8:30am-12:30pm

Carleton Place Farmers’ Market is located very near the downtown core at Market Square– on the corner of Beckwith and Lake Avenue East.  The excellent location includes a completely covered market area, clearly marked washrooms, plenty of parking and a great selection of prepared food, crafts and producers.  

Highlights of the music:

–a couple of youngsters were busking on fiddles when I got there– they were great!! I’m sorry I didn’t get their names…

–“Wheels on the Bus”  by request for a kiddo that helped me with lots of the words.  

–Being asked if I could be filmed right as I started one of those terrible covers that do so well at farmers’ markets and that I’m not sure I want the rest of the world to know I play, getting suddenly self-conscious as a result, and botching it completely (and I mean completely), on video, of course… Ok, I’ll own it, it was Country Roads.  I’m sure the viral video of my disastrous take is on the way…

–Realized I needed an uptempo song right when I started ‘Me and My Nicole’ and went ahead and played it that way– new take and might become a thing!  

–Tried one of my mom’s favourite songs “High Hopes” and it went really well–probably gonna keep it around…

–George at the stall next to me requested Gentle on My Mind– why don’t I play that one? Will have to learn…

Producers:

–Saw and caught up with my old pal David McGahey (McGahey Farms) and his son Peter–talked about the wind down of the food hub… Check them out for grass fed meats and yummy veggies.  

–Got a Pork Jowl from Stone Pile Farm— she’s making bone broth from their pastured pork and it is reasonably priced… I am looking forward to smoking the jowl and will let you know how it turns out.  Yeah, I’m the guy who sees the word “jowl” on a chalkboard and has to buy it.

–Saw some other veggies around but ran out of time to hit everybody… mostly it looks like seedlings, salad greens and micro-greens at this point, no surprises there…

–Darlene at ‘Our Hobby Farm’ connected me a lovely perennial for Nicole for Mother’s Day 🙂  Thanks Darlene!

Unique:

–”Dilly Spread” from the Pickle Vixens: a company making a spread with cream cheese and dill pickles, yep.

–Bike Repair (Conrad’s) on site

-TC Creations had some groovy birdhouses and yard art.

–The Indian food smelled amazing, but I missed it (sorry Pooja!) as I wrapped up a bit too late to try it this time… I will be back!

Coffee situation:  

–regular brewed at a couple of vendor stalls…

–Stopped by Gathering Grounds Café at 135 Bridge Street after the market– This café is a social enterprise business that offers a full selection of specialty coffees, and also operates as a customized employment and life skills training program for teens and adults with disabilities. The Equator Coffee was yummy and I was very happy to support them!

Story Time: “What a Shame”

(I will try to include a story with each letter if I can find the time– this one is not related to CP market but to the greater Ontario FM community and includes actual opinions, so beware…)

The Farmers’ Market Community of Ontario received a blow on Thursday, April 25, 2019, when the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) advised that Farmers’ Markets Ontario will no longer receive ongoing financial support from the provincial government.

Farmers’ Markets Ontario is a member based organization representing over 180 partner markets, that advocates on behalf of members with municipalities, regulators and potential funders.  They also offer everything from liability insurance to personalized advice on a variety of subjects including management, marketing and professional development. They even offer discounts on market tents!  

FMO has been an excellent partner to our market community, and to the Kemptville Farmers’ Market in particular– We first started working with FMO on projects over 10 years ago; initially by getting financial assistance for an advertising campaign, and eventually by tapping them as a rich resource for information about how to actually do this weird wonderful thing that is setting up and running a Farmers’ Market.  

In more recent years, they have helped us secure affordable (critical) insurance for our market and we have used their market manager training program… During the 27 years that Ontario has funded FMO, and in large part through their efforts, local food access in our region has increased 10-fold.  Our farmers’ market would certainly not be nearly as successful as it has become without having had their ongoing support.

In 2013, I was invited to attend a local foods ‘roundtable’ event in Kingston hosted by then PC party Agricultural Critic (current Minister of Agriculture) Ernie Hardeman.  The PC Caucus at the time had just published a white paper that suggested a number of initiatives to “increase local food [access]” including “creating a regional food terminal, increasing food literacy and reducing red-tape that hinders our farmers and food industry.”  

In my memory, the meeting was an afternoon affair that included several key players in the local food sector that I have coincidentally gotten to know better over the years.  Although I admit I was a little charmed by attention from our MPP Steve Clark, in my memory, the conversation from the front of the table contained little substance. And I distinctly remember feeling, at the time, that the true purpose of the meeting was probably for the PC speechwriters to learn our (the local food advocacy movement’s) language so they could better appropriate it in the future.  

Local Food starts at the Farmers’ Market.  Most of our food comes from big farms, usually from far away and even more often, from really, really far away.  Supporting local food access means building a local foods business community, which, in turn, means supporting small local foods producers (aka “small businesses”).  To do this, we must support the real world infrastructure that they rely on to incubate, gestate and grow. We must support Farmers’ Markets. FMO is a success story in doing exactly that.

Our current government seems to be designing a rural policy that is all style and no substance… Hosting a roundtable to listen, and then forming a government to betray.  De-funding an organization like FMO is clearly not the action of a government that actually seeks to increase access to local food– it is, rather, the action of a government that, as they have repeatedly told us, is ‘open for business’ in this case, big business.  What a shame.

Ok, that’s it for this week– next week is at the Kemptville Farmers’ Market!

Your pal,

Bruce