Updated Set 18, 2021

Online farmers market bags
Online farmers market pickup spot

The Web Shop

As the realities of COVID-19 and physical distancing became apparent early in 2020, it was clear that farmers’ markets would be hugely altered by the pandemic.

When our City permit was suspended, we started the www.dufferingrovemarket.ca project as an attempt to keep farmers and vendors supplying food to the neighbourhood and city.

The community-minded people of St. Anne’s Anglican Church offered us space in their Parish Hall to use as our market ‘depot’ and we began a new adventure.

Throughout the time we have been operating the market online, we have received abundant and warm support from market customers and vendors.

It has been a huge learning experience, and a very rewarding one, too.

This undertaking would not be possible without the generous support of the Gingko Foundation, St. Anne’s Anglican Church, and Word and Data. We are tremendously grateful for their assistance.

 

Why we haven’t moved back to the park

We know everyone misses seeing the familiar faces of farmers, vendors and neighbours every Thursday. Some of you have been asking when we will be open for ‘business as usual’ in Dufferin Grove. We want to share the reasons why we have not moved back to our home in the park.

In 2020, Toronto Public Health issued a 6 page directive to farmers’ market organizers outlining the conditions which would have to be met in order to operate in-person. Many of those conditions are still in place.

We could not imagine successfully operating in the park inside fences, with no communal tables or eating allowed, and heavily supervised to limit the number of people in the area. It would be a difficult and unhappy job to police this kind of arrangement, which prohibits so many of the much-loved social aspects of the market.

For farmers, the strict limits on the number of shoppers make it hard to earn a reasonable amount for all their work.

In addition, the City has cancelled all food programs in the park, so the wood-fired oven bread and snacks which have always been an integral part of the market are not available.

In spring 2021, we looked into the idea of operating a small ‘in-person’ market in the south end of Dufferin Grove to provide a substitute for some of the absent food programs. Then we learned that Public Health was not allowing on-site cooking at markets, so our prepared food vendors could not operate. To pay a City permit fee and organize all the staffing and logistics for such a limited event was more than we can do.

With www.dufferingrovemarket.ca, we are giving our farmers and vendors significantly more predictable sales opportunities combined with huge time savings because we do the distribution. We want all our farmers and vendors to make it through the pandemic with their businesses intact.

Customers have been hugely appreciative, and the warm community spirit of the market has survived very well.

Of course, there is a major factor at Dufferin Grove which is different from other markets. The northwest corner renovations are underway, so our usual location is totally off-limits, and we will have no winter space there to use in 2021-2022. Moving back to the park now would leave us unable to continue with a year-round market, and the City is saying that although the contractors are committed to opening the rinks in the fall of next year, they can’t promise indoor space for us until February 2023! That is, if they finish on time. We are urging our Councillor and City staff to push for an earlier date (and you can too!) but we are also trying to be realistic. How often do projects finish ahead of schedule?

We don’t have a guarantee of how long we can stay at St. Anne’s, but we have a very positive relationship with our hosts there. We have put tremendous effort into designing and operating the online market, so we think it is wise to continue this way until we can return to our usual spot in the park.

We know it’s a trade-off. We really understand that you want to see the vendors face to face, and meet up with your friends at the market again, but we hope this helps you to understand our decision to continue operating mainly online. 

This year, we have added a ‘sales on the spot’ table at the market depot, where you can choose from many market products without placing an order ahead. You will get a friendly welcome when you come by!

Please help the market get through this difficult stretch by showing your support.

Order from your favourite farmers and vendors at www.dufferingrovemarket.ca.