Last year, we (the local volunteer committee) worked with the MyMarket organization, the farmers and the City of Toronto to help bring you the Historic St. Andrew’s MyMarket. I blogged a number of times about the market, including this last update in March following the planning meeting that was held with MyMarket, the farmers and volunteers from all of the markets. At the time of that meeting, I noted that the feedback wasn’t promising: we only had two farmers willing to commit to our market for this year, and the stringent rules of the MyMarket program meant that we couldn’t include other vendors unless they passed the MyMarket “certified Ontario farmer” program.
In early May – when we should have been planning for the opening day – MyMarket informed us that not enough vendors were interested in participating in our market this year. We looked into the possibility of organizing an independent market to replace it, possibly with the few vendors who did want to participate plus those that we could approach on our own, but it wasn’t possible to get everything in order for a market this year: there were issues of negotiating with the city for use of the space, licensing and insurance, managing the market on a weekly basis, and organizing the farmers and other vendors. As unpaid volunteers with no government mandate behind us, it just wasn’t possible.
We haven’t given up, however: 2012 will mark the 175th anniversary of the original St. Andrew’s market, and we are working at resurrecting a market in 2011 that will be sufficiently successful to carry us over into 2012 and the years to come. That could mean getting the city involved to run the market, or some local fund-raising to cover the costs of rent, licensing, insurance and a market manager.
Hyper-local markets like St. Andrew’s are the only access that many city-dwellers have to farm-fresh produce: nearly 100% of our shoppers arrived on foot (or bicycle), and a large percentage don’t even own cars, which makes a trip to more distant farmers’ markets unlikely. We have a few other farmers markets downtown; although none are close enough that I’ll be walking home with a load of fruits and vegetables, they’re worth checking out. The closest three are weekday markets in non-residential areas, targeted at workers on their lunch hour rather than full-on weekly shoppers:
- Closest to St. Andrew’s, at just over 1km, is Metro Hall. Thursdays, 8am-2pm.
- A close second is Nathan Phillips Square, 1.5km. Wednesdays, 8am-2:30pm.
- Closest MyMarket (certified Ontario farmers), at 2km, is Sick Kids. Tuesdays, 9am-2pm.
The next two closest markets are on evenings or weekends, and in residential areas, although each are 2km or more from St. Andrew’s and its dense residential surroundings:
- Closest evening market, at 2km, is Trinity Bellwoods (the park is closer, but the market is in the northwest corner of the park at Dundas and Shaw). Tuesdays, 3-7pm.
- Closest weekend market, at 2.4km, is Liberty Village. Sundays, 9am-2pm.
Stay tuned in the coming months for more information on our plans for St. Andrew’s Market in 2011.