by Deron Johnston
Something very special took place in Kemptville on Wednesday, February 13, at the Grenville Mutual Building at 7 pm. It was the first board meeting of the new Kemptville Farmers’ Market (KFM) Board of Directors. The meeting in itself wasn’t particularly special, it was more about who was at the table. For the first time in the history of the market, the board was made up entirely of women.
At the January 30 Annual General Meeting of the KFM (which is an incorporated not-for-profit), there was an election for the Board of Directors. Only one board member from the previous board was finishing their two-year term and was, therefore, automatically part of the new board. All of the other positions were open for new directors. By election of the attending full-time vendors, all positions on the new board were successfully filled by women.
Most of the new board are past members of the board from previous market seasons. The new directors have experience in marketing, governance, human resources and market operations, to name just a few of their qualifications. They are also all full-time vendors of the market itself, with most being long-term vendors.
Over the past couple of years, the market appears to have struggled a bit. The number of vendors has been gradually declining, but the customer counts seem to have remained consistent. However, a controversial bylaw passed by the last board prevented people from bringing their dogs to the market. This appeared to have a minor impact on the customer counts, but an increase in negative feedback to the board, vendors and volunteers as a result of the controversial decision.
The first action of the new KFM board was to rescind the “no dogs” bylaw. They also discussed hiring a new market manager for the upcoming season, and formed a hiring committee for that purpose. There was even a brief discussion about new events for the new season. All in all, it was a productive first meeting, with committees being formed and a clear vision for an active market.
The new board is comprised of: Beth Tilbury as Board Chair, Shaunna Wolfe as Secretary, Joanne Krock as Director of Community Liaison, Lois Wiseman as Director of Special Events, Catherine ten Den as Treasurer, and Nancy Olive as Director of Advertising and Marketing.
Leaving the meeting, there was an excitement and renewed sense of optimism about the coming market season. The market is one of the key aspects of the local food and agriculture sector in North Grenville. A strong healthy market paves the way for the expansion of food production in the area. With the potential opportunities that exist at the Kemptville Campus for increasing local food production, and the recent work of North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford, having met with multiple provincial cabinet ministers over the past month to discuss different aspects of agriculture, it appears that agriculture and food may finally be getting the kind of exposure it has been missing over the past several years.