Lack of local produce ousted vendor
“After two years of Dave (Barry) not obeying the bylaw, we decided it was time to deny the application,” said Paul Brooks, owner/operator of Brooks Farms in Mount Albert, who until last week, was on the farmers market committee. “The bylaw for the market is that all farmers need to grow 70 per cent of the products they sell and Dave doesn’t grow any of them from my knowledge.”
On Barry’s Gardens application, Mr. Brooks said it clearly stated what he would sell in Stouffville was not produced by him.
“I have nothing against Dave personally. We just couldn’t continue to allow Dave to adidas originals disobey the bylaw,” Mr. Brooks said. “I have no joy about denying anyone’s application to a farmers market.”
When the first vote on the application was taken about three or four weeks ago, Mr. Brooks did not declare a conflict of interest, despite being a direct competitor.
“I honestly didn’t think of it. I always put the market first,” Mr. Brooks said. “Every person on the board has a right to vote.”
After being on the committee since 2009, Mr. Brooks resigned last week, not because he denied Barry’s Gardens application, but because “I just have so many other commitments”.
Mr. Brooks currently serves on the Newmarket and Aurora farmers market boards and sells at the Uxbridge market and said he’s never come across this type of issue before.
When the first vote was taken, along with the one on May 12, Councillor Richard Bartley, who also sits on the farmers market committee, was the lone voice in favour of Barry’s Gardens being allowed at the market.
Other members of the committee include Paula Nauta and Warren Abbott.
“I supported it. I was the only one because David Barry is a big part of our market. He is a big draw to our market. . He sells quality goods,” Mr. Bartley said.
Last year, Barry’s Gardens brought in asparagus. He was told at the time, he could not do that because Brooks Farms grows asparagus.
When customers asked for asparagus from Barry’s Gardens, they were given a coupon for a free bundle when they visited the farm.
“Has David (Barry) broken the odd rule? He did and he complied in round about ways,” Mr. Bartley said.
When the market opened last Thursday afternoon for its third season, not only was Barry’s Gardens not there, but neither was Brooks Farms. According to Mr. Bartley, Mr. that day stating they would be absent because they were too busy.
“I was very disappointed that we had no true farmers at the farmers market,” Mr. Bartley said. “I noticed people with e adidas originals mpty bags because they didn’t have the opportunity to buy lettuce, carrots or potatoes.”
Brooks Farms was absent from the market because, according to Mr. Brooks, the farms’ first cut of asparagus was made that morning and it only yield adidas originals ed about 25 pounds, which would have been “gone in five minutes”.
He said the crops are about 15 days behind. But next week they will have asparagus and rhubarb for sale.
Although Barry’s Gardens was not selling any product, it had a presence Thursday afternoon.
There were four signs propped up on the back a truck and hanging from a piece adidas originals of farm equipment in the municipal parking lot right beside the market.
One of those signs read: “Dear friends. Our family is not allowed to participate in the market. We are open at farm. Sorry. The Barrys.”
“I’ve never started a fight in my life. But I don’t walk away with my tail between my legs,” Mr. Barry said, who is taking his fight to council tomorrow afternoon.
Council has the ability to override the farmers’ market committee’s decision, according to Mr. Bartley.
“Since (the committee) rejected the Barry family, I haven’t slept. It’s weighed on me. This isn’t my idea of the market,” Mr. Bartley said. “I’m hoping on Tuesday, council will do the right thing and re instate Mr. Barry and I think they will.”