MORRISBURG –A vendor at the Morrisburg Farmer’s Market has closed up shop, vowing to not return.
“Officially it was a mutual parting of ways,” said Angel Fawcett from Dixon’s Corners, who had sold fruit and vegetables at the Market since the 2016 season. “I won’t be setting up anymore. I don’t want to deal with the township any more and I want them to leave me alone.”
Fawcett’s exit from the market occurred after receiving letters from the Planning, Building and By-Law department of South Dundas.
“I was served one by a bylaw officer in person, and the same letter by registered mail,” said Fawcett.
The letter stated that Fawcett was no longer allowed to sell produce unless she could prove the produce was grown in South Dundas.
The letter went on to state that if she was found offering the “aforementioned produce” she “may or may not be required to appear in front of a Provincial Majesty.”
After receiving the letter, Fawcett decided to shut down, rather than just stop selling produce.
“I did it as a hobby,” she said. “I’ve been driven out of it. I didn’t want any of this, this is a headache. All it has done is increase my blood pressure.”
Fawcett began selling at the market in 2016, with her permit stating she would sell plants, vegtables, fruit, jams, baked goods, plants, hanging baskets, flowers and arrangements, cards and wood works.
She said her issues with bylaw began in 2016.
“They [bylaw] came out four times last year to inspect where I was growing,” Fawcett said. “They asked, and I did give permission to do so. I didn’t feel comfortable with it.”
Fawcett returned to the farmer’s market in 2017 having attained her permit on March 14th. The farmers market opened for this year on April 15th.
“This year they sent Justin out and he photographed my greenhouse,” she said. “They said there was complaints, but would not tell me who it was.”
Fawcett described the issues with the municipality amplifying over the summer.
“I don’t grow everything on my property because I don’t have the room, so I grow things on friends and neighbours property,” she said. “Don Lewis said he had the authority to go on the property to inspect, and that he could go anywhere.”
She said she did not want to have her friends and family involved with inspections.
“My issue is I don’t have to give information to my friends places without their permission. I don’t feel I have to draw them in.”
Fawcett admits that she had some produce being grown in North Dundas on friends property.
“How is that not local,” she asked? “The bylaw doesn’t say local is in South Dundas.”
According to the municipality’s bylaw authorizing farmer’s market states that produce meant, “without limiting the generality of the term, vegetables, fruit, flowers, planting stock, honey and eggs grown or produced by the household of the permit holder or purchased from local growers.”
Fawcett said that when she was told there was an issue, she would adjust what she was doing.
“I was not given the paperwork that was given with the permit,” she said. “They told me if I want the paperwork I had to go online to get it.”
She said she did run afoul of the bylaws by bringing in peaches from Niagara.
“I brought them in, they told me that it was importing and that I was to pay a $490 fee for a three day permit to sell them.”
Fawcett complied and stopped selling the peaches.
“Importing, in my mind, is not bringing in stuff grown in Ontario. I was only selling stuff for a dollar and two dollars.”
Fawcett takes issue with not being able to face who complained about her operation.
“I’m just done. They obviously wanted me out,” said Fawcett. “They wouldn’t tell me who was complaining.”
Fawcett decided after receiving the letter from the municipality August 30th to close up shop.
“I will never set up anything in this township again,” she said. “If I do anything I will grow plants for my own use.”
She added she did not want to have anything to do with bylaw anymore.
“It’s vegetables for crying out loud. How can something so small as vegetables turn into something big? Now that I’ve stopped maybe they’ll leave me alone.”
The Leader contacted the Morrisburg Downtown Business Improvement Area regarding the issue.
“We were not involved in this decision,” said Adeana McQuaid-Bedard, DBIA coordinator. “We were notified by the vendor after the fact.”
The Morrisburg DBIA’s involvement with the farmers market is limited, only promoting the market as a draw for traffic to the village plaza. All licencing and bylaw issues are handled by the municipality.
Multiple contact attempts were made to the South Dundas Planning, Building and Bylaw department by The Leader regarding this issue. No comment was received by press time.