I know I said no more community posts but after the many emails I have received asking me why I resigned from the Carleton Place Farmers Market– this is my bulk answer. This should not be considered a rant- this should be considered a desperate plea. I have kind of put a fork in it now.
Some of you might have heard by now that I have decided not to do the marketing for the Carleton Place Farmers Market again this year. It was a very hard decision, and personally heartbreaking, but it came down to the inner anger and frustration I felt which began to cause me great stress.
There are some that feel that I am a thorn in the side of Carleton Place, when in all reality they don’t realize the amount of love and devotion that I have. The way I do things are sometimes considered troublesome and unorthodox, but if I have to stand on my head and scream until the cows come home I was willing to do it to get folks to support our town.
The Carleton Place Farmer’s Market has slowly evolved into a popular community hub and last year more and more people from outside our community were bringing their families to the market square.
What did I learn from last year?
We have a great team at our market with producers and artisans that are willing to go above and beyond. Everyone got along and worked hand in hand together for the sake of that market –even faced head on with last year’s drought. We might not have everything you want, but we try very hard to give you the best.
There is nothing I would not do for those folks trust me. In all honesty you have no idea what you have at that market “under the exterior skin”. But year after year we have lost management due to the frustrations that everyone feels.
The town of Carleton Place and their local marketing teams don’t really put enough effort into supporting the market– when in essence they should be all over it “like a cheap shirt” as they say. A Canadian survey from a variety of Canadian farmers markets- indoor and out around the country proved that 60% of farmer’s market shoppers also visited nearby stores on the same day– and only on days that they visit the market. Another survey noted that participating farmers also patronized at least one other nearby store on their way to and from the market. Various studies in Ontario noted that a dollar spent at a local farmer’s market has a larger effect on local economy than one spent at a local grocery chain store, and that dollar even circulated longer.
But these are all things I have documented over and over again for the past two years, and yet it keeps getting ignored. Instead of joining forces to promote the downtown I had a tough time getting my ads for the CPFM up on a local community Facebook page late in the 2016 season. Excuses of my writing derogatory posts and then posting them on their Facebook page were 100% wrong. Yes, I write some “not so nice” posts sometimes and I may be damn crazy — but I am not stupid. Something–anything– has to be done to get people’s heads out of the sand.
The CPFM could be an answer to drawing people to our downtown. Did you know when we had our 25th birthday celebration in July, I calculated a list of those who participated in our celebration draws– Over 25% were from outside of Carleton Place.
New Year’s Day was my nail in the coffin so to speak– What should have been a packed upper arena hall for the beginning celebrations of Canada’s 150th never *materialized. Later, there was attendance upstairs but mostly from Kanata. Where was your local Carleton Place support? Where was the Carleton Place Farmer’s Market support after Labour Day and the tourists and cottagers had long gone– exceptional attendance dwindled for the first time in 2016.
But no matter how many hours I put in each day doing my own thing to try and promote the town it falls on deaf ears. Last week when I realized how hundreds of thousands had read my posts in 2016 –yet town support, or even a slight wave of the hand of acknowledgement was still not even close I became discouraged.
Faced with having to deal with shenanigans all over again my stress level rose and I knew my health could no longer deal with it. It just wasn’t worth me having another stroke over the town of Carleton Place. Not because of the farmers– or the people– but for the reason that I feel no one “gets it” sometimes at the higher levels.
A local resident said I sound angry when I complain about Carleton Place and he is right. I am angry that generic ideas from years gone by are still used- I am angry that social media is not used more and especially more uniquely — I am angry seeing an event poster used time and time again– when after the second time viewed “they have seen it” and you have lost the public.
I am the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, heck maybe I am dead wrong. But, this is a new world folks– a world where you have 5 seconds to get someone’s attention. Posters in a grocery store and hopes that people will just show up don’t cut it anymore. Your community has lots of choices to choose from now. Please take care of your local gem at the market square. It could be one of the salvations for the town of Carleton Place if marketed correctly.
Civic pride–our place, our community. Please support your town
*Sean Redmond– you were my hero on New Year’s Day. Of course I had a giggle over your outfit– but that is the way you do it. Rock on!!