The Peterborough Farmers’ Market is a place where people come together to buy local from some of their favorite vendors.
“This is a place where I feel comfortable, this is a place where I can come and see my friends, I can see individuals who are like minded,” said Christopher Robson, who has been shopping at the market for seven years.
Just before Christmas, all that seemed to change when seven local market vendors were given a letter saying they may be kicked out due to “behaviour that is detrimental to the corporation.” The vendors who got the notice include Circle Organic, McLean Berry Farm, Gaelic Garlic, Chef Marshall Eckler, Necessitea Elixir, Otonabee Apiary, and Finest Gourmet Fudge.
The market’s board did not comment at this time but they said a vote among the 98 members of the farmers market will take place on Jan. 8 to address the issue.
“We have no idea why,” said owner of Finest Gourmet Fudge, Brian Mahaffy.
“I’m feeling pretty frustrated, pretty disheartened, but optimistic about what the community is doing to support us,” said Clara Doucette, an employee of Circle Organic.
The seven vendors have been cited for allegedly disruptive behaviour at the market, including interference with the operations and governance of the market and inappropriate and aggressive conduct toward other individual vendors.
A member of the market told CHEX News, these complaints were made by another member, and now the markets board is holding a vote to resolve it.
“They just scheduled a meeting for us, which is part of their job and the way their bylaws work and they hold a meeting and the membership votes, but the board doesn’t vote and it has nothing to do with the board, this is membership driven,” said Courtney Vanden Anker, owner of Vegan Sweet Home.
According to another vendor, the dispute seems to be personal.
“If it keeps going the way it’s going, our traffic is down, our sale is down, if this bad blood doesn’t get cleared up then the market will eventually fold,” said Don Brown, owner of Brown’s Farm.
To push back, the vendors under the microscope have started circulating a petition. They hope to get 15,000 signatures and will bring them to the City of Peterborough and the Peterborough Farmers Market.
“I feel that this has turned very much into a warring of people as opposed to warring of issues. I don’t think that the customers have to be brought into it, we have a wonderful system here, I hate that the customers are having to see this and I hate that it’s shining a negative light on what is truly a glowing beacon in our community,” said Erika McIlmoyle, owner of Waymac Farms, Gaelic Garlic.
The four-member board will bring the matter to all the market vendor members on Jan. 8 who will then vote on whether or not the seven members in question will stay or go.