A Community Makes a Market

A community makes a market

Hello Market Friends:
One of my weekly duties is opening our depot at St. Anne’s so the farmers and vendors can drop off everything that has been ordered for the week.

Time is tight on Thursdays, but for a few quiet moments I can think about the day ahead, and admire the morning light.

Nacho or Luka from Reyes Farms are first on the dropoff schedule, and always ready to lend a hand, putting up the first tents and hauling out tables.

Then Jens arrives with the incredible variety of foods from Marvellous Edibles, Joe pulls up with a big load of fresh harvests from the Sosnickis, staff start arriving, and the day turns into an organized whirlwind which doesn’t let up for about 12 hours.

Some of you may think that we run the online market mainly with volunteers. Not so. We do get a few, and we LOVE them, but the work is too demanding to ask people to do it for free (and we believe that people should be compensated for their labour, especially in these days when employment is scarce).

Everyone who works for the online market has to be trained to ensure that a) they are working in a Covid-safe way, and b) they know how to choose correctly from 600+ products when assembling orders. We do make some mistakes, for which we sincerely apologize, but we are very proud of our crew. They work HARD, with very few breaks, remarkably good cheer, and all care about doing the tasks at hand well. That goes for the delivery team as well, who have been hauling some very large and complex orders around town this fall!

This brings me to a tough topic. Money. Don’t get me wrong, the market is not falling into a bottomless pit. It’s expensive and complex to operate an online market, and there have been many large and small ‘extras’ to pay for, but we are doing our best to run a sustainable market week to week. The problem is, there is very little left over by the time we cover all the costs of providing this service, and we have some financial challenges that we need to address.

First, the market hasn’t fully recovered from the major investment it took to pivot to an online operation. We submitted a cracker-jack application for a provincial grant to assist with that, and had high hopes. Five months later, they say we are still in the running, but it has become a laughably long wait.

Another doubt-filled wait: the City has hung onto all the permit fees we paid for 2020 although we held only 10 markets at the park.

Also, TD Bank really let us down. When an e-transfer for $1132 which we sent to Ted Thorpe was intercepted by a hacker en route, the bank wouldn’t assume responsibility. We weren’t about to let Ted go unpaid for his hard work, so the market covered the cost, and we are still trying to get a satisfactory resolution.

Our hosts at St. Anne’s Anglican Church have been truly generous in letting us move in with our crates of kale and endless bins, bags, and weekly hubbub, but they have costs, too, and we can’t expect them to house us indefinitely without contributing our fair share to the expense of keeping the lights and heat on and maintaining the building.

A few months ago we had to raise the percentage of sales we keep from the farmers and vendors, and we don’t want to ask more from them, particularly when their incomes have all taken a hit this year. We run the market to help them succeed, and we would like to reach a point when we can lower their costs of participation.

We don’t want to set a minimum order size or make contributions for assembling orders into mandatory fees, because we care about the market welcoming those who can’t afford to buy a lot or pay any extra.

We have committed to continuing weekly until at least December 17th, and both vendors and staff would like to carry on through the winter, when local food sources will be scarce, and this alternative to regular shopping will be even more valuable.

However, we don’t want to find the market unable to stay afloat with more tough times ahead.
We are turning to our market community, and asking you to consider ways you can help, according to your means and inclination.

Please take a look at this list of things you could do:

1. Make a one-time donation to the market via our new ‘Support the Market’ page, open anytime the shop is.

2. If you need a tax receipt, please help with the costs of housing us. As of next week, St. Anne’s will have a ‘Community Partnerships’ page on their Canada Helps site, where you will be able to make a donation on our behalf. The link will appear on our Support the Market page as soon as it is live.

2. Increase your weekly contribution at checkout, particularly if you place large orders or ask for delivery at the outer edges of our zone. The automatic suggested donation is set to $5 right now. We are going to raise that to $6, but you will still have the option to choose a lower amount or no contribution.

3. Tell your neighbours about us! Multiple deliveries to the same address or street are more cost and time effective, and now that peach season has passed, we can welcome more customers.

4. Print a few of the flyers linked here:Dufferin_Ads (1) where others will see them.

5. Volunteer on our upcoming moving day. (After the Rendezvous with Madness festival wraps up, we will move our depot back to the Parish Hall. Drop us a line if you could haul tables for a few hours on a soon-to-be determined date.)

6. Send us a nice note now and then. We are highly motivated by appreciation!

Thank you for being part of this journey. We are confident that you will see value in it continuing.

Moving along to great food news for this week!

Sundance Harvest’s fresh herbs are so pretty you may want to put them in a vase before you eat them!

A community makes a market

Home bakers, I hope you are enjoying the market’s selection of ingredients. MotherDough‘s fresh milled flours are superb. They make it easy to work with whole grains and get delicious results. To add to your recipes, Green Florin has a great assortment of dried fruits and nuts.

Along with great seasonal veggies, Thorpe’s Organic Produce is offering 5 pound bags of worm castings so you can treat your lawn, garden and house plants to more of their rich benefits. (If anyone has a lead on tough 10 pound bags (not plastic) let us know and we will pass info. along to Ted.)

Knuckle Down Farm is back with hardy fall greens and fresh parsley this week.

Tapioca Toronto has delicious entrèes for vegans and vegetarians, and if you haven’t tried their cookies yet, you will love them.

Make a note to bring sturdy tote bags if you are picking up your order, so you can haul all kinds of apples, pumpkins, squash and other fall bounty home!

Thanks for your loyal support!
Anne & the Market Crew