Council avoids stirring the farmers market pot
By Chris Conway
A suggestion by Invermere’s mayor to invite the Windermere Farmers’ Institute to participate in the downtown farmer’s market did not find support with council at its last meeting on June 9.
Mayor Gerry Taft had received a letter from the Windermere District Farmers’ Institute expressing appreciation for inclusion in the recent OCP process.
“We also want to acknowledge and thank you for your personal involvement in our successful rezoning application for the proposed abattoir,” stated secretary Peter Trescher in the letter. The institute requested continued involvement in OCP matters related to agriculture.
When the letter came before council at the June 9 meeting, Taft proposed extending an invitation for the institute’s members to participate in the farmer’s market in Invermere. “An olive branch for maybe future years, that it isn’t necessarily required to have multiple markets all over the place,” said Taft.
“Do you think some might see that as trying to take away from the one that’s being started up there?” asked Councillor Justin Atterbury, referring to the farmer’s market that will be operating this summer on the institute’s land at the crossroads.
“I don’t know,” responded Taft. “They’re not actually the ones organizing the one up there as far as I know. They just have the land up there.”
Coun. Greg Anderson said he did not think such a letter was necessary. “I agree with Greg,” said Atterbury. “I think it just stirs the pot.”
“Alright,” said Taft. “I will leave it alone then if no one wants to make a motion.” The suggestion did not proceed further.
During a subsequent update, chief administrative officer Chris Prosser stated that, as of the date of the council meeting, the downtown farmer’s market had 30 full time vendors signed up and approximately 25 part-time vendors.
Taft stated that there had been some flip-flopping back and forth as vendors tried to choose which market to join.
“My personal opinion is that a lot of the vendors will go where the money is and where the people are,” said Taft. “It took 15 years plus to build the market to what it has been in the current location. If it were to take that long to build another market in another location I’m not sure that a lot of vendors would have that amount of patience and longevity to wait that long. If there is an option to go with a known commodity as far as a location then I think they will but I don’t know. We could end up seeing that there’s enough potential for two markets and that people enjoy going to both.”
“There are a lot of vendors who couldn’t get in at the old market just because of space,” said Anderson. “So in fact we may find that there’s some new vendors come forward that hadn’t had a thought in their mind that they were going to be in a farmers market and now they are going to be in. So there may be enough for two, actually.”
Mayor Taft disputed a claim attributed to the crossroad market operator Julia Oaks. He said that he had been asked about a claim Oaks made in a local newspaper that 90% of the vendors were following her. “A lot of people take that as gospel and obviously with the 30 secured vendors, most of those are vendors that were downtown in the past so I don’t think the 90% figure is accurate,” said Taft. “It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
The Invermere Farmers and Artists Market held a soft opening at its downtown location last Saturday (June 13), which was well attended.
The formal opening for that market will occur on June 20.
The Invermere Farmers Market, which previously operated downtown, will also open on June 20 at its new location on Farmers Institute land at the crossroads beside the main highway.
Lead image: Always a popular attraction at the farmer’s market is local resident Japhy Hunt who adds plenty of colour to the event. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW file image