Today’s Poll

New city appointed committee created to manage farmers’ markets

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
July 20th, 2020

The city is assuming greater control of the weekly farmers’ markets and has made a move to set up an advisory committee to guide market management.

Less than a month after the city took away the operational reins of the farmers’ markets from the West Kootenay EcoSociety it has moved forward with the creation of a Nelson Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee to govern it.

There was some discussion about setting up the committee in council — and the appointment of Coun. Jesse Woodward as the city’s representative — but also remorse on the part of some councillors about the lack of EcoSociety involvement.

Coun. Brittny Anderson acknowledged the work that the WKE had done over the years and felt one position on the committee should be reserved for them.

“We need to show that we are still working with them, that we need to (have) a good relationship to keep,” them involved,” she said. “Closing them out of all of this would be unfortunate.”

City manager of corporate service, Sarah Winton, suggested sending them an invitation to apply for a position on the committee.

“If they did want to submit an application they would get priority consideration,” she said.

The city’s involvement in the farmers’ market was temporary, noted Coun. Keith Page, as the markets were navigated through the current pandemic times. As a result, he was hesitant to create a committee on that premise.

“I worry about this particular one about formalizing a structure on this without going through the summer and getting a report back on how it went and whether or not it was successful,” he said.

Winton said the creation of a committee was a request from two market advisors and five key farmers at the market, since there was never one in place previously.

One of the biggest recommendations made since the markets resumed this month was that a market advisory committee be formed to provide input and recommendations in running a “fair and equitable market.”

The committee will focus on how best to support the distribution of local food at the Cottonwood Falls market location, said Winton.

“Then (a committee) is not just about one person, one organization making decisions, it’s about getting really robust feedback from a diverse committee,” she said.

“I’m not arguing a need, but I thought it should be something that the farmers themselves organize and move it forward,” Page replied.

City staff had been running the Saturday and Wednesday markets for two consecutive weeks at Cottonwood Falls Park. The Saturday market has had turnouts out of over 550 people, with upwards of 15 vendors, while the Wednesday markets sees approximately 150 visitors with five to seven vendors, a city staff report noted.

As a result, the Nelson Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee (NFMAC) was established and a terms of reference adopted.

“Additionally, staff are recommending that in light of the immediate need for the committee, that the authority to appoint members be delegated to staff for this year only,” the city report read.

The city handed operations of the Wednesday and Saturday farmers’ markets at Cottonwood Falls Park to the Nelson and District Youth Centre this year after the West Kootenay EcoSociety developed the weekly markets over the last 20 years, adding in the downtown Wednesday market, MarketFest and Gardenfest.

Discussions with the EcoSociety on a workable solution to keep WKE in control failed when a funding shortfall meant the organization was not able to run the markets this year without substantial new grants from the city, regional directors, Columbia Basin Trust and additional donations from the community.

Instead of granting the EcoSociety the money to run the market the city allocated $7,000 to their youth centre to run the markets. Burgess said the city has asked the RDCK area directors to send the financial support they committed to EcoSociety’s markets to the city.

Tom Thomson from the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce and Sydney Black, Nelson and District Arts Council, have offered to host artisan markets this summer as a way to support businesses as part of the recovery process.

The market is planned to continue to operate each Wednesday and Saturday in this location until the end of October.

Ready, set, go

The city has begun advertising the NFMAC to the public and are currently accepting applications.

Rather than wait until council’s Aug. 3 regular meeting to present the applicants to council and recommend appointments, staff requested that they be delegated the authority to make appointments for 2020 in order to begin working with the NFMAC as soon as possible.

— Source: City of Nelson staff report

Terms of reference


The purpose of the Nelson Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee (NFMAC) is to provide strategic input and recommendations to the City of Nelson council with regard to operation of the Nelson Farmers’ Market for the 2020 season.

Such recommendations should support local food security through the growth of a sustainable farmers’ market.


  1. Provide guidance to the market manager in addressing market related issues;
  2. Determine the structure of the farmers’ market, including: vendor eligibility, local area of inclusion for products, eligibility criteria of products, time and day of markets, parking and traffic flow etc;
  3. Develops guidelines regarding product and quality assurance;
  4. Provide recommendations to city council regarding market related topics;
  5. Create and distribute a market survey to the public and market vendors; and
  6. Identify and meet customer needs.

The committee’s role is advisory; authority for decisions remains with council.


NFMAC shall be composed of a minimum of six and a maximum of 10 members. Representation should, where practicable, including the following:

  • One member of council
  • Two farm vendors
  • One prepared food vendors
  • Up to three community members-at-large
  • Two designates – businesses
  • Ex officio – City of Nelson mayor and city manager

— Source: Terms of reference, Nelson Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee

Categories: General

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