It's harvest time. After a hot, dry summer, local farmers are relieved to have their produce ready to sell. The outdoor markets are bustling with a colourful array of veggies, apples and flowers.
On a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in September I decided to drop by the Parkdale Market to talk to farmers and their customers about the importance of supporting local. It was also a chance to do my veggie shopping. I was enjoying the colours and smells, and the ambience, but it didn't last long. It must have been my camera and my questions - but I was soon drawn into a long simmering dispute that pits some growers against some vendors. Here's the issue. Under City bylaws local GROWERS- FARMERS pay less to rent stalls to display and sell their produce because they are only supposed to sell what they grow here. VENDORS can sell anything - what they grow and what they buy that's shipped, like Niagara peaches and nectarines. Because of that, Vendors pay more to rent stalls in Ottawa's outdoor Markets. Those are the rules.
But there are those who allege some Local Growers are breaking the rules, bringing in produce from outside the region and passing it off as their own. At least one Vendor told me he has made an official complaint against one local farmer and is hoping the City clamps down soon.
Note: I deliberately did not identify the farmers, and one in particular that the vendors in this story are unhappy with. The allegations did not affect my experience shopping in the Outdoor Market. Everyone I met is passionate that the customer buy only the best products available.