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Toronto looks to cut red tape on farmers markets

Farmers markets in Toronto have grown from 10 in 2006 to 35 in 2016.

Produce sold at the Trinity Bellwoods farmers market, Toronto, Tuesday, September 20, 2016.

Metro/Eduardo Lima. / Metro Order this photo

Produce sold at the Trinity Bellwoods farmers market, Toronto, Tuesday, September 20, 2016.

The city is looking to cut some of the red tape associated with green thumbs.

Based on city data, 25 new farmers markets have cropped up in Toronto since 2006, bringing the total to 35. They’re a popular and healthy option for residents, but organizers say they’re getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

Lesley Stoyan, cofounder of the AppleTree Markets Group, has helped set up five farmers markets across the city since 2008.

She said it’s been a “tricky” and “messy” process getting all the necessary permits and liasing with different agencies, from Toronto Public Health, to Parks Forestry and Recreation.

“You have to involve all these different bodies and none of them are in the loop about what the common goal is,” she said.

At a recent meeting of the city’s executive committee, Coun. Mary Fragedakis put forward a motion to establish a working group to streamline processes for both food markets and vendors.

The motion will be debated at city council in early October.

“We are so close to the Greenbelt and there is this huge movement for people to buy local, buy fresh,” Fragedakis said.

 “The more accessible that is the more people will choose that.”

Anne Freeman, co-coordinator of the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network, called the initiative “fantastic,” but would like to see the city take an even stronger role in supporting food markets.

She said it’s not just a question of more farmers markets but also where they’re located.

“There’s sort of a whole inner suburbs ring and big patches where neighbourhoods aren’t so well served,” she said.

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