Local Chef Seeks Support in Creating a Rossland Farmers Market

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
April 30th, 2009

Local chef and baker Michel Germain has been working slowly over the winter and early spring to bring a farmers’ market back to Rossland. Many people know Germain’s smiling, friendly face from his current one man market outside of Ronnie’s convenience store. He is trying to bring that energy and sidewalk friendliness to a larger and more permanent market setup with lots of local and regional vendors selling everything from fresh art to fresh asparagus.

Back on February 9th, Germain presented a brief letter to council outlining his aspirations to start a farmers’ market in Rossland. He initially suggested Pioneer Park or the square beside Ferraro Foods. At that time council debated the legality of Germain’s setup on the sidewalk of Columbia. Council also discussed the two possible locations, noting that city zoning bylaws would not permit a market in either suggested location.

Taking the city’s advice, Germain worked with city planner Mike Maturo on advice for alternate locations. With the location set for the city-owned parking lot behind the Credit Union on Queen Street, posters began appearing around town about the market, which was planned to run from May through August. After the advertising was put out, however, the market ran into a snag when it was discovered that the cost of the requisite insurance would be prohibitive. While the city has provided lots of support for the project so far, Germain, now in need, hopes for possibly more.

“The city planning manager Mike Maturo is very keen on it; he’s enthusiastic about it. I get a lot of support from the city and it is very good, but maybe the city will wake up and say ‘Ah, Mr. Germain: he needs some help’.”

The farmers’ market has been a popular one with folks that Germain has talked to and interest from vendors has been high as well. When asked if many people have signed up, he replies, “Oh yeah, quite a few so far. Quite a few from Castlegar, Trail, Rosslanders and I would think at least 15 to 20 people interested so far. I’m trying to get more people from Creston and Grand Forks, but I have to let it go for little bit because I don’t know exactly when I’m going to open now. I did some advertisements but now I have to stop the advertisements until the insurance money is figured out.”

The recent awarding of over $40,000 in Columbia Basin Trust Grants by the city of Rossland to community groups would have been a good potential opportunity for the market to gain some funding. The opportunity was missed, however, when Germain didn’t get an application.

“I didn’t apply for the grants and I realize now I could have gotten a grant but it’s too late now so I kind of missed the boat. I’m a doer, I’m not a go-getter person, you know what I mean? So I’m just trying to find a way to get it together and get the money. It’s close to $700 really for the full time (insurance), but to me it’s a big weight. I already spent money on advertisement on posters so it can’t go further than that.”

Germain’s market needs at least two million in insurance coverage. Finding the $700 has been a struggle, and at times he has questioned whether it was worth continuing to pursue the idea; however, the public’s support has kept him going and now he is looking for more.

“If people would like to help out that would be great. A lot of people are keen, I think, for the market, but right now I am waiting for phone calls. I am waiting for those keeners to help me out. I think it’s going to work.”

This past week, a memo from Maturo updated council on the progress of the market:

“Mr. Germain still needs to secure liability insurance and to comply with the IHA regulations concerning healthy concerns at the proposed site (staff are also inquiring). The BC Farmers Market Association offers it’s farmers markets an insurance program (for $300/year) that provides $5 million in liability coverage listing the city as a second insured) with the catch that the still hypothetical Rossland Farmers Market would have to pay a $200 membership fee to qualify (and also be a voting members). Staff will collaborate with Mr. Germain as he advances his concept, but the financial challenges may prevent the market from appearing this year.” 

A motion requesting staff to keep council updated on the matters was carried. Mr. Germain encourages anyone wishing to support the farmers’ market to contact him.

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