Hello Market Friends:
There is so much news from the vendors that we’d better start with that. A big welcome back to Ben and Jessie Sosnicki this week, with their beautiful rainbow of storage vegetables. They will be alternating weeks with Nith Valley Organics while Marvellous Edibles takes a break. Don’t forget–this is your last chance to get your favourite Marv Ed and Buschbeck Farms products til March!
We’re also very happy that Plan B is back to supply us with a mix of local and imported organic produce.
Essa Seedlings & Sprouts is coming, too, but the long cold and cloudy stretch in the valley where Liz lives means that she only has sunflower shoots to bring this week. The others are taking their sweet time growing, but they will be ready next time.
Another welcome back goes out to Gladys of La Mexicana, who has just come back from Mexico! The tamales menu will be expanding nicely very soon!
MotherDough will be attending every other week now, with fresh-milled flours and baking.
Eat local, healthy, and delicious this winter!
In the category of ‘things you never would have guessed’, last week it came up in casual conversation that our loyal delivery driver Jonathan Seglins holds the Guinness World Record for Endurance Juggling of 10-pin bowling balls–the kind that weigh in at 16 pounds each. To win the record, he completed 36 tosses of those babies! He’s ready to juggle Marvellous Edibles’ Sauerkraut Cabbages, or maybe even Kooner’s watermelons when they come back in season!
Another Circus Performer, the lovely and amazing Kristi Tarlin is at the Editor’s Desk this week!
Oh Captain! My Captain.
When Anne asked for guest market news writers, I started thinking how much the whole delivery side of Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market has changed over the last year and a half. I started working with the market in May 2020, when my career in live entertainment went from bustling to bust overnight. All four members of my family worked at the market in the early days of the market’s pivot to the delivery and pick-up model that is still functioning today. The market threw us a lifeline when we really needed something to look forward to each week. Fast forward a year and a half, and I now find myself as the Delivery Captain.
If you’ve never seen our set up inside Saint Anne’s church, picture a large room with rows of tables with each one dedicated to a vendor. The benevolent Saint Anne, immortalized in stained glass, but strangely with two right feet, overlooks the room. For the delivery team, it works something like this: a picker gets an order sheet and finds the items requested. They then place their full shopping basket in a queue to be properly packed. Once packed, the order sheet gets attached to the outside of the box and placed in a designated area for the delivery run it will be on. Delivery drivers have a specific time to pick up their run and the start times are staggered throughout the afternoon to allow boxes to be continuously readied.
Nowadays, we are not flawless, but things have definitely improved. Initially we would pick and pack our own orders in paper bags and place them in long rows for the delivery people. At times there were only one or two delivery guys, (my husband being one of them) and he would sometimes be delivering orders past 10 o’clock at night. It was great for the raccoons, but not so good for the customers. Way back when, we packed everything in paper bags, including whatever needed to go in a cooler. Needless to say, the paper bags pretty much disintegrated in the coolers after a short while. Packing heavy jars of maple syrup or kombucha with wet kale in paper bags caused a few expensive accidents. Now we pack as much as possible in boxes. Any delivery customer can tell you the mishmash of boxes that they receive their orders in, but the beauty of boxes is their strength, and delivery drivers can stack them and fit more in their vehicles. The boxes eliminated the need to put every bit of produce in a plastic bag and since we only use recycled boxes, the need to purchase paper bags.
We now have a great delivery team that has been with us for more than a year. They know the routes, the parking, and the customers. We have designated pickers and packers at the depot, and that catches more errors. We have instituted colour coding, checklists, designated freezers for pick up and delivery and lots of labels! None of our products come with UPC codes, and we often have several vendors with the same kind of produce, so things can get very confusing when you’re trying to discern which item is the winter garlic, the red garlic, the jumbo garlic, the garlic bunches, the garlic braids, the garlic dressing, the black garlic….
The camaraderie at the depot is a beautiful thing. Several of us have joked that we are going to write “Dufferin Grove Farmers’ Market: The Musical”, because there is much singing and joking amongst the staff. There is always the conundrum of how to pack the “awkward item of the week”. What is it this time? The giant pumpkin? The Brussels sprouts tower? The winter greenery? The watermelons? The gigantic turkeys that need to be kept cold? We somehow figure it out and keep going.
Even though I now have another job, I managed to make sure I got Thursdays off so I could continue at the market. The Saint with the two right feet reminds me that we’re not perfect, but we can still aim high.
P.S. It’s the second Thursday of the month. That means it’s REPAIR CAFE WEEK!
Don’t miss your first opportunity of 2022 to get your things in working order!