New signage at Peterborough Farmers’ Market labelled a ‘rebel move’

Farmers Market debate in Peterborough
The Peterborough Farmers' Market aims to improve identifying locally grown produce after some sellers argued some items were being trucked in.

A group of local farmers has introduced new signage at the Peterborough Farmers’ Market that it says is designed to better identify local growers. But the market’s board says it hasn’t endorsed the move.

In recent weeks, some vendors requested the need for more transparency for the weekly Saturday market at the Memorial Centre parking lot. They claimed some sellers were purchasing produce from a Toronto terminal and reselling it in Peterborough.

Jan Laurie, who has been growing and selling organic sprouts since 2005, says there’s a place for everyone at the market. She is a member of the market’s board.

“We characterize the market as Ontario local — not 75-kilometre local,” said Laurie.

“We wouldn’t be able to have a farmers market if it was just vendors from within 75 kilometres.”

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On Saturday, the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Network (PRFN) introduced a new banner system that clearly labels producers — stating where a farm is located and verifying the grower is selling products from their land.

Peter Hughes, a member of PRFN, says there has been longtime confusion about where some food originates.

“We’re not so much opposed to the presence of resellers; we’re more interested in people knowing who they are buying from,” he said. “The banners we have up are a way that customers know what they are buying and where it’s from and to support and promote the region.”

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But the Farmers’ Market board says it was never approached about the sign initiative, and calls it a “rebel move.”

“We have felt that they are trying to undermine the market by trying to label people and not treat everybody fairly,” said Laurie.

“If they would like to set up their own market, we would be quite happy for them.”

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PRFN isn’t interested in setting up another market, said Hughes. The network simply wants more transparency from market vendors.

“We just want to make sure people know what they are purchasing when they are here,” said Hughes.  “And we’re trying to stay as positive as possible. We’re not interested in fighting.”