By Connor Lynch
PETERBOROUGH — The Peterborough Farmers’ Market’s board of directors is re-tooling itself as the word police, according to one vendor, and some vendors are considering legal action.
One vendor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the board’s new policy doesn’t allow them to put up their own signs that document how many kilometres a producing farm is from the market, to show how local it is. The new rules also ban vendors from advertising if a farm has been verified as local by a third party, he said.
The board’s new signage policy ordered vendors to take down their signs, which showed how local they are, by Feb. 24, 2018, the same day the letter was dated. The new rules on what constitutes being “local,” allows for one to four phrases growers can use on their signs. The phrases are: “We grow (add list of crops)”; “We raise (add list the names of livestock)”; “We produce (add list of products)”; and “We support (add list of Ontario products the vendor purchased and the location in Ontario where the product was produced).”
Seven vendors, who were threatened with expulsion earlier this year, are planning on launching a lawsuit, according to the one vendor, on the grounds that banning signage in a public place restricts their freedom of speech.
The board wants to emphasize that it consider anywhere in Ontario to be local, explaining in its notice to farmers: “The concept of this signage is to help customers identify the origin of the product so they can make an informed choice WITHOUT NEGATING Ontario farmers, farms or the farming industry.” The year-round market has about 100 vendors.