Virtual farmers’ market: shop local, support local youth

city_scope_logo-cmykIt is being billed as your online, one-stop, mid-week shopping solution offering an amazing selection of fresh, locally grown produce.
But, that is only half the story.
While you shop at CULTIVATE Virtual Farmers’ Market, you are supporting the young people at the Talbot Teen Centre in St. Thomas.
Vicki Asher, teen centre manager, says the virtual market is an opportunity for local youth to learn and build valuable life skills by being involved in the day-to-day operation of a small business while connecting them to local farmers.
She explains the participating vendors will set up the stores within the website as if they had a stall at a typical market.

“The idea going forward,” says Asher, “is the youth at the teen centre in the program are going to be involved with all of the ins and outs of running a small business.
“We want them involved in every aspect. It’s an opportunity to maybe spark an interest in agriculture.”
Cultivate virtual farmers marketIt’s been an ongoing project at the centre notes Asher and, as of this week, they have 14 vendors signed up.
“They absolutely love being involved with the virtual market because of these aspects.
“Along the way, the kids will be learning some very valuable life skills. And hopefully, they will be able to continue on and be successful in life.
“It’s about building the path from farm to table.”
So how will the virtual market operate?
As envisioned, the market will open up each Sunday around 8 a.m. and customers will have until midnight Tuesday to shop and then they will pick a time Thursday afternoon to drop by the teen centre where their purchases will be ready for pickup.
The aim is to open the virtual market early in June.
So, while you shop local you are supporting local youth.


Would St. Thomas be a better place in which to live, work and play if the city was home to a casino?
Is there a demand for a community/aquatic centre?
Well, city staff want your input as they prepare to update the municipality’s Strategic Plan.
They have partnered with Fanshawe College’s Corporate Training Solutions to create a short, on-line survey to help determine what is important to residents in improving the quality of life in St. Thomas.
Strategic Plan online survey

Speaking with city manager Wendell Graves this week he notes, “We are really encouraging residents to participate in this survey.
“And what they will find there is a series of themes that have come to the surface over the last number of months. And we would like residents to rank the Top 10 they think are important.”
It will be valuable information to determine the future direction of the city.
And you are not limited to the listed themes as you can add your own suggestion for consideration, advises Graves.
The survey will be active for a couple of weeks and then all of the information will come back to council.
“Once we particulate the priorities for the next couple of years then we will put specific actions together. How do we advance these things?
“We’ve been really pleased in our most recent endeavours into electronic surveying by the very generous uptick we’ve had by residents, so we’re hoping we see the same again.”
You can participate in the survey here.


You probably are more familiar with the above block in its former life as Wellington Street School. It has been sitting vacant for some time and the city is anxious to find tenants for the impressive structure that, for a short time, was a satellite campus of Algoma University and most recently was the home of the STEAM Centre.
At a reference committee meeting last April, the city manager raised the possibility of converting each classroom into a residential unit.
STEAM Centrejpg

As it stands now, the city has a 99-year deal with the province for the provision of approximately 100 parking spaces at the Wellington Block for use by those attending the Elgin County Courthouse and the city has the use of 12 to 15 parking spots.
At the aforementioned reference committee meeting, Graves indicated “We want a dialogue with the province on parking.”
As has been shown, there certainly is no need for anywhere near that amount of parking related to court services.

“The Wellington Block building may lend itself to just such a type of (institutional) use in addition to the range of residential uses and educational uses currently permitted.”

Well, the business case for residential conversion at the former school is not good and at Monday’s (June 1) meeting a report will be before council recommending the city broaden the permitted uses of the Wellington Block to make it more attractive to potential tenants.
If approved by council, institutional use would now be permitted if compatible with the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
In his report to council Jim McCoomb, manager of planning services advises, “The use often includes administrative functions and educational functions for agencies offering social programming and support such as the Salvation Army, the Knights of Columbus, the Canadian Cancer Society, YMCA or YWCA.
“The Wellington Block building may lend itself to just such a type of use in addition to the range of residential uses and educational uses currently permitted.”
A public meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. June 24, no doubt pending the status of COVID-19 restrictions.

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It was a dozen years ago this week – May 28 to be exact – that Alma College, already suffering demolition by neglect, succumbed to fire.
Alma College Zinn2jpgAnd three years ago next month, we talked with one of the two Arthur Voaden students who entered the former school for girls through a back window, little expecting “all hell to break loose,” a short time later.
Ivan Zinn was just 15 at the time and for his moment of carelessness that resulted in a blaze that quickly consumed Alma, he and a friend were sentenced to probation for a period of two years.
With the property soon to be transformed into a residential enclave, it is worth revisiting our conversation with Zinn.
You can read the full interview here.


The item last week on the Horton Market prompted Steve Ogden to post the following on the City Scope Facebook page.

“Two days ago Walmart had as many shoppers in the store as I’ve ever seen during the Christmas rush, while city hall’s been pushing us to support local businesses… yet we can’t open The Horton Market for five hours, once a week?
“I see no reason social distancing can’t be enforced at the market just as it is everywhere else. If we can afford free city busing because of the pandemic, we can certainly afford to hire a few security guards for a few hours in support of local businesses.”

On the same topic, John Waugh added this thought which nicely ties in with the Talbot Teen Centre initiative.

“What about a Virtual Farmers Market with weekly online product updates from vendors, and maybe a vendor location route map, sort of like a garage sale drive on a Saturday morning?”

And Deb Hardy gets right to the heart of the matter.

“Support local! C’mon city council! It CAN be done!”

Questions and comments may be emailed to City Scope

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