What started as a desire to keep a 12-year community tradition alive in the uncertain times of social distance measures has become so much more.
Back in the winter, members of the newly re-formed DECA Green committee were busy applying for grants, planning for park events like a Solstice Bike Rodeo and canning workshops, and working out how we would sew reusable bags for market goers.
With the onset of the pandemic, we realized three things:
- The market as we had planned it was not going to happen this year, but we wanted to keep the tradition going in some way.
- Food security was more important than ever and Ontario farmers were going to need our support.
- We still wanted to work together to make our community a better place, even more so in a time of insecurity and distance.
We knew we had to redirect our energies, and with the support of Farmers’ Markets Ontario (who manage the market vendors) we pivoted to our current delivery model. We are using the Danforth Mennonite Church basement for organizing food from the farmers, and volunteer drivers are delivering to your home. All orders are made through the Open Food Network, which allows individual farmers to control their own stores (so you get the freshest food and they get money directly!). The order window for Thursday is the previous Friday at noon until Tuesday at noon. And if you’re having trouble making OFN work, we have a video for that!
We wanted to keep the community focus of the market alive and so we pivoted from solstice bike rallies to using the Park People grant to match the community’s PWYC donations to The Neighbourhood Group, an organization that runs community programs like Meals on Wheels and food banks for seniors. And we put our sewing machines to work making not reusable bags but fabric masks that we sell in our DECA store.
Total funds raised in our first week? $900. And we keep contributing to the Neighbourhood Group each week with proceeds from your delivery donations and mask purchases.
As we go into week 3 of this new model, we are gratified by the positive comments from customers and farmers. We have fun as a volunteer team (DECA board members, their kids, helpful neighbours) and we’d love to have you join us! If you can spare two hours on a Thursday to sort orders or run deliveries, please let us know by signing up on our Signup Genius page.
With your support, each week our market grows bigger and more vibrant. And as much as we are excited to adapt to these times, we are also looking forward to next year, when we can picnic together again in East Lynn Park.