Plan B appears to have worked – look for it every Friday in the parking lot behind Centro’s on John Street.

 By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 30, 2012  Friday was the first day for the new fresh produce market in the downtown core.   It was put together quickly; it was a little haphazard, it had a lemonade stand and there was value plus fresh vegetables all set out on the edge of a private parking lot steps away from a lush garden – it was Burlington’s latest downtown Farmer’s Market that will be known as Plan B.

Fresh from the farm, one of the selections at the Farmers Market that will be open every Friday from 11-2

Barry Imber had been thinking about the idea for more than a year and decided it was time to stop thinking and time to just do it.  And so there it was – the first of a planned program of having the market open every Friday from 11 – 2  and see what happens.

And they showed up.  There were no line ups but there was a steady flow of people inquiring about the cheeses, the fresh pork that was wrapped and in a cooler.  Those who are focused on “fresh from the farm” can place their orders by telephone (there will be a web site up soon where you can put in your order) and pick it up at the market on Friday.

For those of you who want a special cut of pork this is about as good as it is going to get.  Featherstone Farm hopes to cultivate a clientele within the downtown core that wants that extra freshness and a chance to talk to the people who run the farm.

The market is called Plan B, which is part of a different way of feeding people.  It is part of what is known as a CSA model  –  Community Shared Agriculture, that restores the link between the farmers and city dwellers.  Successful in Japan and Western Europe since 1965, CSA today operates on approximately 1000 farms in North America.

With traditional CSA , local households purchase subscription “shares” of the year’s harvest from a local organic farm. CSA “shareholders” pay for their produce at the beginning of the growing season, providing the necessary start-up capital for farmers to purchase seeds, supplies and soil amendments, eliminating their reliance on expensive bank loans and helping to pay for the real cost of food.

Lemonade stand with a great selection of potted plants as well. The place had a good family feel to it during the first Friday.

The market on John Street, right behind Centro Gardens isn’t going to be a traditional CSA, at least not yet.  For the immediate future people who live in the city will be able to slip over to a market that has fresh products, organically grown.

Where does the name Plan B come from and what does it mean – and who started it?  Three people, working on an urban gardening project in 1996, came up with the wild idea of starting their own organic CSA farm! They convinced Alvaro’s brother Rodrigo to join in and in the spring of 1997 Plan B Organic Farms was born!  ‘We thought the name “plan b” really conveyed our intention of providing our community with an “alternative” food source to foods produced through “conventional agriculture” aka plan a.  In 1998 we moved to our beautiful 50 acre sandy and rocky piece of land in Flamborough Ontario.  The first 5 years we worked the land by hand, learned that there was a lot to learn about growing vegetables, but with the support of family and the local community we made it work. We continue this work still with this mission in mind:

This means that we grow and source the best certified organic produce from 12 farms in Southern Ontario for your shares each week. For you, our shareholders, this means a greater variety of foods in your share each week from many of the best organic growers in the province!’

Plan B Organic Farms is a “multi-farm CSA”: Provides local farmers with an economically viable farm business;  Consumers gain access to affordable, fresh, & local organic foods; Consumers learn about what grows in Ontario and how to “eat seasonally”; Strengthens the local economy and builds community and less transportation and packaging makes for a healthier local environment.

Longer term, Barry Imber, the mind behind the Farmer's Market, has plans for dinner parties in this garden area right next to the market. Chinese lanterns, an Executive Chef preparing a meal using local fresh food. Sounds yummy.

The group grows and sources the best certified organic produce from 12 farms in Southern Ontario which  means a greater variety of foods from many of the best organic growers in the province!

It’s part of that 100 mile diet; everything you eat is produced within a 100 mile radius of where you live.

Burlington is a city with a significant rural element.  That land north of Dundas is good farm land.  Many see that location as the place to grow a lot of the food consumed in the city which comes down to fewer transport trucks bringing in lettuce and cucumbers from Mexico and creating a sustainable farm operation that isn’t part of the massive agribusiness approach we now have to feeding ourselves.

Will it work in Burlington?  The people behind Plan B have put more than 10 years of their lives into this and Barry Imber has been at it for a year.  Last Friday we saw the first short steps.  It will take time, it needs nurturing – but when you put that fresh asparagus on the table you know you did something right.



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