BLYTH – North Huron council approved several requests from the Huron County Farmers’ Market Network (HCFMN), on behalf of the Blyth Community Market, seeking to update and amend current agreements with the township, including hiring a person to help and creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The Blyth Community Market was founded in 2019, and in 2021 became a member of the HCFMN.
In a letter addressed to council, the HCFMN said, “This summer, 2022, we are excited to be back to a full season of live markets from May or June to October.
The letter stated that the network had “grown beyond the capacity of volunteers to manage,” and asked that a full or part-time position be created to increase their capacity in order to support HCFMN operations.
The letter said, “We currently have active grant applications to fill this interim need and in the meantime our funds are limited and directed towards the management of the markets.”
The group requested that North Huron council again waive the $400 multi-vendor license fees, as they have done in the past.
They asked if they could use the municipal space beside the drug store to host some of the vendor’s tents and “use certain other spaces within the downtown in consultation with municipal staff and with permission of individual business owners as was done in 2021.”
The third request asked that “municipal staff work with HCFMN to develop an agreement going forward for the use of downtown spaces, for the consideration of vendor fees and any other issues of significance related to the partnership with the municipality and use of municipal spaces so that an annual request/approval process might change to a reporting process, which may be more respectful of both HCFMN and municipality resources.”
The letter ended by saying, “The last two years have been very challenging for local farmers’ markets.
“Huron County Farmers’ Markets Network has the advantage of being a member association, led by a board made up of vendor members and community representatives.
“The collective expertise and commitment has been critical for the survival of the markets during the pandemic and will be instrumental in proving the HCFMN model sustainable.”
There were some questions surrounding the usefulness of the multi-vendor fees, Coun. Trevor Seip said he didn’t recall if council had ever charged the $400 to anybody.
North Huron Clerk Carson Lamb confirmed that the fees had been charged in the past, but “they were few and far between.”
Denise Lockie, community engagement coordinator, cautioned against changing the rules because most of the waived fees were for non-profit organizations. However, the township may see issues for private parties, who also are charged this fee if they were to change the permit parameters.
Council unanimously approved all the requests.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times