Is gentrification helping the market?

Is gentrification helping the market?

Real estate agents like to mention the market as one of the neighbourhood’s assets, and developers tag us on instagram. Should we be rubbing our hands with glee at the prospect of wealthier customers?

I’m one of the lucky people who moved here long ago, when the neighbourhood wasn’t crazy-expensive, but it wasn’t just the cost of housing that made it a good place to live. When I got involved at my kids’ school, and came to the park, more of the people who lived around here could afford to choose how they spent more of their time. As affordable rentals are reno’ed, and houses flipped, we know our new neighbours less and less. Everyone is tied up earning all the money they need.

With time-strapped lifestyles come conveniences like big box stores and delivery services to bring groceries ordered online. Farmers’ markets get put into the same category as tourist attractions: something to go to once in a while for a recreational outing: a treat, not a habit. The result at some markets has been more and more ’boutique’ products. We’ve tried to resist that at Dufferin Grove. Although prioritizing support for local, small-scale producers doesn’t mean we’ve got bargain-basement deals, we do care about affordability and want the market to be as accessible as it can be.

Hanging around just about every Thursday, something I have noticed is that the people who keep the market afloat by spending their money at it regularly don’t necessarily have a lot of it. They tend to have coats that are useful in all weather, but those coats may be as well-worn as their favourite shopping bags.

Lately, our attendance has been lower than we’d like. We need a solid customer base if we’re going to continue as a year-round market. We feel concerned about the ways the neighbourhood is changing. We hope new residents and old alike can find time to enjoy coming and learning about where our food comes from and how it was produced, getting to know farmers and neighbours, and supporting fair, sustainable, food production close to home.

Enough musing, here’s some news!

Wolf  Chrapko of Everdale writes: “I will be bringing the following items with me: One Australian Cattle Dog, spinach, arugula, baby kale, salad mix, turnips, salsify, parsnips, peanuts, rutabaga, and carrots!

Very exciting news: Our team of farmers and apprentices has arrived!  We are really looking forward to an exciting season of learning and growth (in and out of the soil!).  Up top is a glamour shot of the new recruits bottle feeding some baby lambs.”

Hey fans, ChocoSol is back every week now! Because who can stock up and save chocolate for two weeks?

Bob Felhazi of Pine River can hardly believe the swings in the weather. He’s covering and uncovering crops as fast as he can. He hopes to send another load from his greenhouse soon, but not yet.  And Mark Skinner of Windswept Cider says, “It looked like spring had sprung but then it went away. I’m hopeful I can get out on the tractor next week. It’s not looking good considering the rain that is in the forecast. I will stay patient and be ready!?” We’ll see Mark the fourth market of the month.

is gentrification helping the marketMeanwhile, make the most of April showers by thinking about what you want to grow this spring! Urban Harvest has lots of wonderful choices. Personally, I am looking forward to the dahlia tubers as well as the quick-growing herb and flower seeds.

We will be holding the draw for this year’s Loyal Eaters at 5:00! Two lucky winners will receive a bag of goodies from market vendors. Perfect attendees get a double chance to win!

See you at the market!
Anne Freeman

Vendors this week:

Ali Harris: rotis, fritters, beverages
Bees Universe: honey, eggs, bee products, knife sharpening
ChocoSol: chocolate, coffee, beverages
Country Meadows: olives, oil, eggs, cheeses
DeFloured: gluten-free baking
Dufferin Park Bakers: wood-fired oven breads, salads, snacks
Everdale: organic produce
Forbes Wild Foods: nuts, maple syrup, mushrooms & other wild foods
Kind Organics: sprouts, salad mixes, teas
Marvellous Edibles: pastured poultry, meats, organic vegetables
Monforte Dairy: many varieties of cheese
Plan B: organic produce
Spade & Spoon: pickles, jams, maple syrup, soup
Urban Harvest: seeds, body care, soil amendments
Vasile Florin: nuts, dried fruits and sunflower oil