Kingsland Farmers' Market managers step aside amid financial woes

Financial problems have forced the former managers of the The Kingsland Farmers' Market to step aside. The market has been in operation since 2010 and has been managed by the Alberta Local Food Co.

Market will remain open, but some vendors say they won't return

Financial problems have forced the former managers of the The Kingsland Farmers' Market to step aside 2:19

Financial problems have forced the former managers of the The Kingsland Farmers' Market to step aside.

The market has been in operation since 2010 and has been managed by the Alberta Local Food Co.

Tim Hoven, owner of Hoven Farms and member of the Alberta Local Food Co., told CBC News the company's financial woes forced them to relinquish management of the market.

The Kingsland Farmers' Market opened permanently in 2011, after a few trial runs in 2010. (Nadia Stewart/CBC)

"Any start-up company doesn't have the cash reserves that a five- or 10-year-old company would have to carry you through the lean times and we did as much as we could to keep the market operational but, in the end, the landlord decided it was best for him to operate the market." 

Hoven says last year's flood also didn't help the company's financial situation. After June 2013, sales dropped dramatically and this year's long winter also killed them, he says.

"With all the turmoil that the City of Calgary has been in and markets are very dependent on customers and with the flood last year, which changed customers buying habits and the terrible long winter which made it harder for people to get out to markets the changing market conditions effectively said that the market has to be moved to new management."

Hoven wouldn't go into any specific details about what kind of problems existed for the management team before the flood, so it's still not clear exactly when the company's financial problems started — or exactly what those problems are.

The building's landlord, a company named Terry Lee Holdings, has taken over ownership and management of the market, until new managers can be found, said Hoven.

CBC News was unable to reach anyone at the company for comment.

The market will be staying open, though it doesn't appear as though all of the vendors will be staying. A number of vendors — who did not want to speak on the record — say they will be pulling out of Kingsland. Others are upset and claim that the change in management means  they will lose their security deposit.

When asked for comment about those claims, Hoven declined to comment.

Challenging atmosphere for farmers' markets

Consumers don't always turn to farmers first — even though the food is locally grown or made, says Hoven.

"Many people consider farmers' markets to be a high end, more luxury item than a food product that they can buy a lot cheaper a Walmart or at one of the big box stores, so people just make different priorities."

Hoven says they have been feeling that shift in priorities for some time.

There are a number of farmers' markets operating in the city, but the owners of the Crossroads Market agree it can be a tough business to get into. With all the options available, Crossroads Market manager Bob Kendall says farmers' markets aren't always consumers' first choice.

"Its extremely tough. There's a lot of competition out there with the big box stores — Costco, Co-op, Safeway," said Kendall.

"People are just price conscious. At the end of the day, they're always looking for best value for their buck. Whether or not its through the markets or Safeway, Co-op, stuff like that, markets do offer quality products and you do get to meet the producer — the butcher, the baker — so you get to know how that product's made and what's used in the product."


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