The bitter cold Friday morning didn’t stop a crowd from gathering outside Emmanuel United Church for a rally to show support for seven local farmers and food vendors at risk of being evicted from the Saturday Peterborough Farmers’ Market for “behaviour deemed detrimental to the market.”
Around 150 attendees gathered in the basement of the church to listen to the vendors address the situation.
“The allegations against us are false. They are merely an attempt to silence us further,” said Circle Organics farm manager Julie Fleming.
“We love our market. We are tired and we are devastated. We don’t want to be going through this fight, but we are going to stand up for ourselves.”
Supporters have started an online petition to support the seven vendors facing eviction, including Circle Organics, McLean Berry Farm, Necessitea Elixir, Finest Gourmet Fudge, Chef Marshall and Gaelic Garlic.
“We do need you to sign that petition — we need you to share it and we need to you to ask the city for better governance of this market so local food and local vendors are protected,” said farmer Erin McLean, marketing manager at McLean Berry Farm.
By noon on Friday, the petition had more than 9,000 signatures.
The vendors say they welcome the strong support, but are still worried about the eventual outcome.
“It’s a scary vote — we’re really scared about our future and the future of farmers at the farmers’ market,” said McLean.
“So we want people to get out to contact the board, contact the city and tell them they want to see farmers at farmers’ markets.”
Affected vendors say the timing of the motion, coming just days before the holidays, has been tough.
“It’s kind of overshadowed the holidays, personally,” said McLean. “It’s also really hard to get in touch with the city, councillors, ward members, the media, everyone. Everyone is on holidays and trying to enjoy the season.”
Members say the board is mandated to respond to complaints within 21 days and note 16 other vendors filed the motion against the other seven for what they call “disruptive behaviour.”
The roughly 100 market members will all have a chance to vote on Jan. 8 at a special meeting that is closed to the public.