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CHATTER: “More than a farmers’ market” re-opens safely (Aug. 2020)

September 9th, 2020 · No Comments

Christopher Dunbar, owner of Dunbar Organic Farm, is excited to get back into the community and to share his harvest at the farmers’ market. MARY AN/GLEANER NEWS

After a long delay, the volunteer-run Bloor and Borden farmers’ market is open and ready for another season. The market takes place Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m. It’s located in the Green P parking lot off Borden Street just south of Bloor Street. 

This season, there are only seven vendors at the market, with offerings ranging from baked goods to fresh organic produce. According to Rory ‘Gus’ Sinclair, former chair of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA), the market plans on staying open until the end of October. 

There are a few changes to keep in mind when visiting the farmers’ market this summer: 

  • Only some vendors will be accepting cash, credit cards are strongly encouraged. 
  • All shoppers must maintain a six-foot distance from one another. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be available for visitors.
  • Masks are mandatory for all shoppers.

There is also a one-way lane for shoppers to line up and enter the market. Additionally, a new online ordering system is available on the Bloor and Borden’s farmers’ market website: Shoppers may now pre-order on the website and pick up their orders at the market in line.  

Pre-ordering may be a blessing for shoppers, but  making it happen proved challenging for some vendors. 

“My biggest challenge was predicting my crop,” said Christine D’Hulster, Co-Owner of Son-in-Law Produce,  in a phone interview with The Annex Gleaner. “With online ordering I have to have my product online a week before, so that’s been really challenging, to determine if the crop is going to last another week or how much I can offer.” 

Baker Olivia Yetter, owner of OY’s Joys likes the new online ordering system because it helps decrease waste and determines the amount of products she has to bring.  

“Without obviously any pre-sales, I would bring my goods and try to sell them. If it didn’t sell, I would take it home as a loss,” Yetter said in a phone-interview with The Gleaner. 

Another change in the market this year is the community-filled atmosphere. According to Helen Goldlist, Chair of the Market Advisory Committee (MAC), the market is more than an area for local groceries, it’s also a place to build and strengthen the community. In previous years, the market’s centre square was filled with musicians, activity tables, and resting areas for community members to get together. However, this season, the farmers’ market will lack the centre square due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I would say the community feel is different, but, the customers this year are still very supportive,” said Christopher Dunbar, owner of Dunbar Organic Farm.

D’Hulster also made many online connections with community members who showed support and appreciation for her produce.  

“It’s obviously a very hard time for people and the fact that receiving our produce makes their day and brings a little bit of normalcy in their life has honestly brought tears to my eyes,” said D’Hulster. 

“I think every neighbourhood should have a market because it does bring a community together. When you have a stronger community, you’ll have stronger people,” Dunbar said.

—Mary An, Gleaner News

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