Kelowna farmers’ market vendors posed for a split

A rift between members of the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market appears to be turning into a chasm.

A rift between members of the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market appears to be turning into a chasm.

Former market president Wolf Wesle stepped down from the helm of market society, and now he’s one of the people spear-heading the development of a farmers co-operative.

“It’s been in the works for awhile because there was a need for some co-ordinated marketing. Most of us are too small to get into the marketplace because we don’t have enough produce for shipping or big outlets,” he said.

“A co-op can source from a number of farmers.”

The co-op would also formalize the split interests at the farmers market.

“A community co-op that involves growers in the whole community may want to consider starting a farmers market,” said Wesle.

It will soon be clear how serious the plans may be. Wesle said they’re filing papers to become an incorporated co-operative, and they’ll get the news on whether it’s going to happen or not, by month’s end.

In case it isn’t obvious, Wesle and the other growers aligning outside the Kelowna Crafters and Farmers’ Market structure are seriously considering moving to Urban Square.

Current market president Martin Miller says that’s just fine.

“If 10 leave, we’ll have them replaced right away,” he said, adding that the Mission Crossing project has more allure than Urban Square to the majority of remaining market members.

By his estimates, an urban environment can be a death knell to a farmers’ market. Plus, Urban Square looked to be a pricey proposition to their members.

Negotiations with the Mission Crossing people are underway, and a decision won’t be made until after summer, said Miller.

The only thing he’s sure of is that the decision will be made on consensus.

The market’s membership were at loggerheads after an opportunity to move onto the Urban Square site was embraced by the market society board, and spurned by members. Members voted 62 per cent against the move.

Despite the results of that vote, the board said they’d be moving to the north end location.

An emergency meeting among members to oust the board was held, and although they narrowly held onto their seats there has been a shift.

—Kathy Michaels

Kelowna Capital News