Problems at Calgary Farmers Market?

We’ve been going to the Calgary Farmers Market for a very long time now. Not quite since it opened, but I think not long afterwards. When we lived in Garrison Woods, it was a weekend ritual (it was a five-minute walk from our house) for breakfast. It was nice, unique, and homey.

But I fear it’s turning political and greedy, and the ultimate sufferers are regulars to the Market.

A few months ago, our favourite coffee bar, Bit O’ Beans closed. It wasn’t the most attractive place, but the staff were friendly, reasonably fast (given the traffic they usually got), and they made a mean yerba matte without charging an arm and a leg for their wares.

In its place is something right out of Starbucks. Fancy. Polished. Expensive. We’ve gone nowhere near it. I’ve had to revert buying tea from Totalitea, which is a bit more expensive (and admittedly not quite as good). Alex is in mourning for the loss of the English Fog (an Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea with milk), which she can’t get anywhere else in the market.

I could have accepted it as just that. But today we noticed something much nastier: King’s Catch Inc., the seafood stand, was closing. At a distance, I could only read the banner, which suggested they were just closing. But as you got nearer, there was a person standing out front with a sign that read:

Being forced out by Calgary Farmers Market.

I ran into my friend Mel in Sunworks Farm’s stand, and she told me the real deal: Calgary Farmers Market wouldn’t renew the lease because someone else offered more money for the same space.

My first reaction was one of revulsion. How political! How antithetical to the principle of a farmers market! How greedy! Who would be next because the board wasn’t earning enough?

That’s when it hit me: it’s still a capitalist system we live in. And if someone is willing to pay more, the landlord — the CFM board — has the luxury of taking that money and running with it.

That’s not to say I agree with it, though I do understand it. I don’t like the idea of every stall in the place turning into Sebastian & Wazhisname, which replaced Bit O’ Beans. God only knows what’s going into King’s Catch’s space, but if it looks too polished and planned … well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex and I start moving away from the Market as a place to visit regularly.

I like the idea of something small, regional, throw-together. When you start bending to the pocketbook and not to the ideal, are you still fulfulling needs? Or are you just unable to see the forest for the dollar bills?

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