Friday, 31 October 2014

2014-10-31 - Happy Halloween from Ojo's and the Wilson Street Farmers Market

Oct 31 St  - We begin again.

It’s damp and chilly Halloween as Ojo’s gets ready for our weekly Wilson Street Farmers Market – open every Friday in the winter from 2pm till 7pm – what is Ojo’s selling at the market – why nothing of course.   Surprised well let’s bring everyone up to speed on ojo’s markets,  intentions and ethics.

In the beginning……. (I love saying that) – Ojo’s never really intended to found a farmers market – all we ever wanted to be was a Ancaster French Fry Stand – we never signed up for the whole food truck highway experience we wanted to stay local – and stay in Ancaster, after exhausting the prime locations in Ancaster that appealed to us first – BIA – Food Basics Plaza – Little Gourmet Plaza …. We settled on Soldaats.    We tried our best to work with the city and we followed the food truck bylaw – and we started paying rent on our location in the hopes that we could be a chip stand in the somewhat lonely West end corner of Ancaster.

When the city gave us push back on operating our food truck – we started thinking – how do we get permission to operate at this spot we hope to call home – well – form our own special event that’s how – lets re-establish the West End Farmers Market that was located at the Fairgrounds till 2011 on Saturdays, that way Ojo’s can be a vendor and we will be allowed to operate if only one day a week at our planned location.  We contacted the Ancaster Farmers Market and told them of our intentions – our idea was not well received – and not supported by the AFM –they advised us if we went ahead with a new market we would not be welcome at theirs.


We never were joiners, so to establish the west end market we set up a stall in our warehouse and called ourselves a market.  This was as much poking fun at the establishment as anything else and we invited other vendors to join us. We visited farms and local producers and told them what we wanted to achieve and try to re-establish a farmers market in the west end of Anc, but make it year round and indoors.  Everyone loved the concept but could not afford the effort of staffing a new market with potentially small revenue in the first years.  So we agreed to get the market off the ground we would staff the local market stalls in a co-op fashion.    The ojo stall was based on the local suppliers that were being featured on our food truck – VG meats – Jensen Cheese – Hewitts Dairy, and the Ontario Natural Food Co-op, this was a sampling of our product used on our food truck during the season.

We understood that it is costly for vendors to come out to a market and not have  sales –so I would like to point out that – WE HAVE NEVER EVER CHARGED STALL FEES TO ANY VENDORS!  NO MONEY HAS EXCHANGED HANDS FOR RENT – OR MANAGEMENT FEES – NOTHING - NADA  - We work on the idea that together we can make it great and if and when there is revenue – the market will begin in earnest.  

Ojo’s has personally flipped the bill for all advertising – signage – rent – tables etc….to the tune of thousands of dollars for the Wilson Street Farmers Market – we have do not have any thoughts on making profit on the market – to which end we have officially formed a Not For Profit Corporation called the Wilson Street Farmers Market.    Websites, City of Hamilton – hours and hours and hours of time that Ojo’s – has spent trying to establish this market – so much money and time and we are not quitters.

Ojo’s stopped having our own stall in the spring – we get that speculative grocery sales do not bring in profits and food waste is a bigger issue.   We host the market – cause we believe in Farmers Markets and we will continue to pursue our right to host a market.  There is no current bylaw for Farmers Markets that limits where a market can be located.  The city is working on one – it has not passed council.  It can not be enforced pre-emptively – and we exist.    

Each Friday – the Produce arrives – our kitchen is officially finished – way over budget – but yes we have met or exceeded all city regulations – building codes – fire codes and health codes……..  Expect a grand – grand opening announcement soon for Ojo’s Commissary kitchen!

And soon….. Ojo’s will have product for sale at the Wilson Street Market – made in our kitchen – and made of 100% local ingredients

Ojo’s will continue to support Bill 36 – and thank the Local Food Fund for all the good that is doing to bring local food back into the forefront of conversation, and we sincerely look forward to serving our community and the greater good.

Bill 36                                                          2013

An Act to enact the Local Food Act, 2013and to amend the Taxation Act, 2007 to provide for a tax credit to farmers for donating certain agricultural products that they have produced


Ontario has robust and resilient local food systems: a highly productive agricultural land base, a favourable climate and water supply, efficient transportation and distribution systems, and knowledgeable, innovative farmers, food processors, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs. These resources help ensure that local food systems thrive throughout the province, allowing the people of Ontario to know where their food comes from and connect with those who produce it.

The variety of food produced, harvested and made in Ontario reflects the diversity of its people. This variety is something to be celebrated, cherished and supported. Strong local and regional food systems deliver economic benefits and build strong communities.

Maintaining and growing Ontario’s local and regional food systems requires a shared vision and a collaborative approach that includes working with public sector organizations. The process of setting goals and targets to which the people of Ontario can aspire provides an opportunity to work with industry, the public sector and other partners to promote local food and to develop a shared understanding of what needs to be done to support local food in Ontario.

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:


   1.  The purposes of this Act are as follows:

    1.  To foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems throughout Ontario.

    2.  To increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food.

    3.  To encourage the development of new markets for local food.