City of Toronto working to reopen farmers’ markets across the city, St. Lawrence Market outdoor market opens Saturday

Today, Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto is working with market organizers to safely reopen farmers’ markets usually located on 22 City sites.

Farmers’ markets are valued members of the food supply chain and provide Torontonians with access to fresh fruits and vegetables, encourage residents to get outside and be physically active, and support the local agriculture sector.

The decision to reopen City-permitted farmers’ markets has been made in consultation with Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. Toronto Public Health has developed a guidance document to help organizers, staff and vendors reduce the spread of COVID-19. It provides recommendations on public health measures such as crowd control, physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, and is available at https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/90ef-COVID-19-Recovery_Response-Guidance-for-Farmers-and-Fresh-Food-Markets.pdf.

The City usually hosts 22 farmers’ markets on the following directly operated City sites:

  • Civic Squares: Albert Campbell Square, David Pecaut Square, East York Civic Centre, Etobicoke Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square and Nathan Phillips Square
  • Parks: Dufferin Grove Park, East Lynn Park, Flemingdon Park, Humber Bay Park West, Jonathan Ashbridge Park, June Rowlands Park, Lakeshore Village Park, Masaryk Park, Riverdale Park West, R.V. Burgess Park, Sorauren Avenue Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Underpass Park, Withrow Park, Wychwood Barns
  • Toronto Museums and Historic Sites: Montgomery Inn

The City is working with market organizers to determine the potential reopening of these markets this season in compliance with provincial rules and public health guidelines.

The City-operated Saturday Farmers’ Market at the St. Lawrence Market will open its seasonal outdoor market areas tomorrow for the 2020 growing season, until approximately November 14.

St. Lawrence Market has worked with the City’s CurbTO program to relocate the outdoor area onto Market Street between The Esplanade and Wilton Street to allow for physical distancing. Lineup areas for the indoor and outdoor farmers’ market will start on Market Street and both areas will operate every Saturday from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Customers are strongly encouraged to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while shopping at the market.

The St. Lawrence Market Complex has continuously operated indoor market areas during the COVID-19 health emergency under the guidance of Toronto Public Health and the Province of Ontario’s essential workplaces.

Additional market opening dates will be determined by the capacity of organizers to comply with Toronto Public Health guidelines and the required divisional permitting process. Permitting divisions will make every effort to prioritize areas of the city that face food insecurity.

Organizers are encouraged to contact their relevant City permitting bodies. Based on individual market site restrictions, City permitting divisions may have additional recommendations and heightened requirements where appropriate.

A list of farmers’ markets is available at https://www.greenbeltfresh.ca/. Members of the public should check with individual markets for opening dates and protocols.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports. Check https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 hotline or 311.

Quotes

“Farmers’ markets are a vital part of our neighbourhoods, providing access to fresh local fruits and vegetables to keep us healthy. While farmers’ markets will be different this year, they are an important part of ensuring food security in our city and I’m proud that we are responding quickly to ensure they can safely reopen soon.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Farmers’ markets and fresh food markets provide Toronto residents with healthy, local and fresh food, while improving neighbourhood food security and resilience. Toronto Public Health’s guidelines will enable this essential service to reopen in way that is safe for organizers, vendors and customers.”

– Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina Fort York), Chair of the Board of Health

“Toronto has an incredibly strong food and beverage sector and farmers’ markets are an important part of that local food infrastructure. These markets not only provide farmers with access to urban customers, they also offer local food entrepreneurs a vital launching pad for their fledgling businesses.”

– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

“Farmers’ markets animate our City parks and connect us to delicious and healthy food as well as the natural beauty of these important public spaces in our neighbourhoods. They play an essential role in addressing the changes needed to eliminate localized food scarcity. We have been able to gradually reopen many park amenities and I’m pleased that farmers’ markets are coming soon.”

– Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 6 York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

“We are working hard with our market organizers to reopen farmers’ markets on civic squares and other sites as soon as possible because City facilities are meant to be utilized by the public and farmers’ markets are one of the best uses of our spaces, connecting communities with local, healthy food.”

– Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood), Chair of the General Government and Licensing Committee

“Farmers’ markets and Good Food Markets play a vital role in providing access to fresh, local, high-quality produce to tens of thousands of residents, getting healthy food into neighbourhoods and communities. The Toronto Food Policy Council has worked closely with the City to reopen markets to safely operate under the current context. We celebrate that markets are opening and recommend that the City continues to ensure that all food system responses to COVID-19, including emergency responses and long-term recovery strategies, align with the development of sustainable food systems and climate action to ensure city and regional long-term resiliency.”

– Marina Queirolo, Toronto Food Policy Council member and project lead for Public Markets

“Toronto farmers’ markets are a key piece in a local food system that bring fresh foods directly from Ontario farms to the consumer. This allows the eater to know who and how their food was grown. We applaud the City for opening up this Important part of the food chain.”

– Janet Horner, Executive Director of the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance

“Farmers’ markets have always been nimble and adaptive organizations, and COVID-19 is forcing markets to innovate at a radical and rapid pace. Greenbelt Markets has been supporting farmers’ markets to shift to a new model with online sales, local delivery, pick-up options and redesigned market spaces that will be safe, enjoyable place for Torontonians to shop for food.”

Daniel Taylor, Co-Director of Greenbelt Markets