‘Pay What You Can’ markets set to return to Kingston community

Photo from a Community Harvest Market in 2022. Photo via Local Journalism Initiative.

The running dates for 2023 Community Harvest Markets have been announced, with the first of many markets throughout the season slated for Tuesday, Jun. 13, 2023. The markets, running since 2013, provide an option for affordable, locally-grown produce at three different locations in Kingston.

This year will see the debut of a third market behind Centre 70 on Days Road. Community Harvest Markets reportedly chose to add a location on the west end after hearing that that part of the city is a bit underserved and that there are not a lot of food access programs in the area.

These markets adopt a “Pay What You Can” model — with a sliding scale from $0 to $5 — trying to ensure that anyone who wants access to locally grown produce isn’t restricted by the cost.

Community Harvest Coordinator Marie Bencze said that while this market has always been a great asset for the community, it is especially needed with rapidly rising costs.

“You see endless news articles about the cost of everything right now and especially food,” Bencze said. “We think this is an especially important time for people. That disparity between wealthy and poor people is ever growing.”

The markets are run by Loving Spoonful and the majority of the food available comes from Loving Spoonful gardens, which are often right near the site of the markets. Bencze said all the gardens use agroecological principles, nearing organic without official organic certification. 

While market attendees can expect common staples to be available week to week, as well as some seasonal offerings from local farms, there will also be some produce available that’s far less common to Canadian consumers, especially affordably. The market will carry traditional fruits and vegetables from different cultures and regions of the world, giving newcomers a chance to access a taste of home without having to spend too much. 

While the affordable sliding scale is a huge selling point for many of the markets’ attendees, Bencze said some are happy to pay the full price and just love the opportunity to have a farmer’s market right in their community. 

“Some people who do come are paying full price for everything,” Bencze said. “But they’re still very grateful to have the access to the local food that’s grown right outside their door in their own neighbourhood.”

Markets will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday at Kingston Community Health Centres on Weller Avenue, every Thursday at the Calvin Park Library Branch, and both Tuesday and Thursday behind Centre 70 on Days Road. 

The first market will be held on June 13 and they will run on a weekly basis through October 12, 2023. Read more about Community Harvest on their website.

Owen Fullerton is a Kingston-based reporter with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI).

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