Market lessons learned from Augusta’s Farmers and Craft Market
Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka
(As published in the South Grenville Journal – Thursday, December 10, 2020)
On Saturday, December 5th I attended Augusta Township’s Farmer’s and Craft Market held at the MERC Hall in Maitland. The event was held all summer in North Augusta and moved to the MERC Hall in Maitland when temperatures became noticeably colder. Last Saturday’s event was advertised as Augusta’s Volunteer Appreciation Day in which volunteers in Augusta Township were given on arrival a $5 meal voucher and a $15 dollar voucher to purchase anything at the Market. There was an excellent turnout of vendors and participants at the event with everyone following COVID-19 protocols set out and enforced by event organizers. During the event, I visited numerous vendors to get their feedback on their Market experience this season and what could be done to improve the event in the future. Frequently, the first feed‑back was congratulations to organizers for a successful summer and fall market with particular thanks to Nicole Walker, Augusta’s Community Development and Recreation Coordinator and main driver of the event. I echo their sentiments. For ways of improving the market, the re-occurring comment was that we need to get more people to attend the event through more advertising and better signage on the roadways to assist people looking to get to the event. In reflecting on the comments received, it occurs me that Augusta Township, being a farm community, needs to make greater effort to grow the farmer’s and craft market idea so as to develop a regular clientele committed to shopping locally and to supporting our local farmers and crafts people. I am throwing out the challenge to the Township’s newly minted committees of Council and to staff for their ideas. I also invite any member of the public to share your ideas and to volunteer to help if possible.
On Monday, December 7th, 2020, the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) issued a media release under the heading: Critical Time to Reduce Further Spread of COVID-19. In the release Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Health Officer for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) urges residents to carefully consider their actions at this critical time following a sharp increase in people infected with COVID-19 over the past week. Dr. Stewart notes in the media release that a positive test for COVID-19 has so many implications. According to Dr. Stewart, “it affects the health and well-being of the individual, their close contacts have to self-isolate for 14 days which could mean missing work or school, and it places a tremendous pressure on our healthcare system, economy and public health capacity”. Dr. Stewart reminds everyone that hosting or attending a single celebration dinner or event with friends or co-workers can have devastating consequences if one of the attendees is pre-symptomatic, as they will unknowingly spread COVID-19 to the others. Everyone is urged in the media release to stay home and away from others if you have symptoms of COVID-19, even mild ones, and book an appointment for testing,” Dr. Stewart adds that it is critical that businesses have screening in place to ensure that their employees are not experiencing any symptoms at work.”
As Chair of the LGLDHU Board, I urge everyone to heed Dr. Stewart statement that, “while we know that it’s frustrating to not celebrate in-person with our friends and family, we must remember that for us, this is a temporary measure – but for the families and friends of the over 12,000 Canadians who have lost their lives to COVID-19 – it is not.” I also urge everyone to heed Dr. Stewart’ statement that “Staying home and apart as much as we can is the most important thing we can do. Celebrating virtually can be done by all agreeing to find new and creative ways to connect. Being safe and protecting yourself means you are protecting your family, friends and co-workers.” Stay safe everyone!