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Kelowna farmer's market organizer airs frustration over new restrictions limiting artisan sales

Image Credit: Facebook

The Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market organizer is frustrated that vendors can still sell food at the market, but artisans aren't able to sell their wares during Christmas time.

Frances Callaghan, organizer of the market voiced her opinion on Facebook after receiving an email from the B.C. Farmer’s Market stating that food can be ordered online and picked up at the market, but that won't be the case for artisan goods.

“They took part of our arm away by saying no crafters, no artisans and basically what it comes down to… is we don’t understand why and we’re not getting answers,” she said, adding when she inquired about the reasoning behind the protocols to Interior Health, she was told they're just following orders.

“It’s hard for us to explain to vendors and customers what the reason is behind this because we don’t know, they aren’t telling us anything,” Callaghan said.

According to a B.C. Centre for Disease Control update posted Dec. 11, farmer’s markets are considered an essential service and non-food items and personal services are restricted, except for online sales and pick-up orders.

However, the update states that sales of non-food items, crafts and other items may be sold online, but must not be picked up at the market.  An provincial health order implemented Dec. 2 already prevented artisans from selling wares in-person, so the Kelowna market organizers pivoted to sell them online and have them picked up.

“We as the farmer's market went out this week and really promoted them to be sold online and picked up," Callaghan said.

READ MORE: Kelowna farmer's market holds first outdoor event of the year

Online food sales may be picked up at the market in a designated area or pickup point, according to the centre's regulations.

The artisans were able to sell wares from June into November, when the Kelowna market moved indoors, Callaghan said. The market is currently operating at the Parkinson Recreation Centre on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It’s very frustrating for those artisans because this is their time of year. This is what they worked so hard for and to have their arms cut off and say sorry, you can’t have your product anymore, you have to sell online, (is disheartening)” Callaghan said.

During the pandemic, the market has seen fewer customers, and “whether we see that go forward in the new year, we don’t know how the sales for the farmers this year’s sales go... Chickens aren’t going to stop laying their eggs, we have to get the eggs to the public,” she said.

“This is time we need to focus on helping each other out instead of shutting our community down,” she said. “We had to do the WorkSafe protocols, like all these stores left open.”

It’s uncertain at this point if the market will continue next year, but she thinks vendors will return, although some may shut down their business because it’s not feasible for them to continue, she said.

Interior Health could not be immediately reached for comment.

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