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About us

Led by the heart and the head

From the beginning, Withrow Park Farmers’ Market has been managed by local residents wanting to enhance their community, support local organic farmers and food producers, and make it easier for shoppers to access fantastic food. The market’s first season was in 2006. It has been well-supported and well-loved since then. Support the market and make a donation today!

VISION: A local sustainable economy that strengthens community connection and environmental stewardship.

MISSION: To be a well-run, financially secure and community-supported group that provides a platform for environmental and community initiatives, built around an inclusive farmers’ market of ecological farmers, food artisans and artists.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Eleanor Belais (Treasurer), Lanrick Bennett Jr., Janet Robins, Estelle Taylor (Chair), Mary Vallis, and Benetta Yogendran (Secretary)

MARKET MANAGER

Chantal Stepa

OPERATIONS COMMITTEE

Lanrick Bennett Jr., Lauren Harvey, Janet Robins (Chair), Meg Shannon, and Stacey Waspe

POLICY COMMITTEE

Estelle Taylor,  Lanrick Bennett Jr. and Benetta Yogendran

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Eleanor Belais (Chair) and Estelle Taylor

Estelle Taylor – A committed city person, Estelle nonetheless has enduring connections to farming, with grandparents who farmed and relatives who still do. Estelle helped to start a farmers’ market in Vancouver and moved to Zambia for a while to support small-scale farmers there. She claims she herself is able to grow tomatoes but none of us are yet convinced. linkedin.com/in/estelletaylor/

Mary Vallis Cowan is a journalist, educator and entrepreneur. For her, the market represents a place to bring people together, build social capital and showcase creativity. She is particularly fond of watermelon radishes.

Meg Shannon is a writer, communicator, and proud Riverdale resident. Volunteering with the Withrow Park Farmers’ Market is a way for her to connect with her neighbourhood and help create the wonderful sense of community that is one of her favourite parts of living in this part of Toronto. She tends not to choose favourites, but she particularly enjoys parsnips and puts garlic in everything she can.

Benetta Yogendran is a senior project manager with 8 years of experience in project management, consulting, and CPG operations. She is currently pursuing her MBA at Queen’s Smith School of Business. For her the market presents an opportunity to be part of a community and use her project management experience to contribute to its success and growth. She enjoys gardening and spends countless hours with her mom growing vegetables and flowers. Her favourite local vegetable is corn, she gets excited every summer waiting to get her hands on locally grown corn! 

Lanrick Bennett Jr. is all about #EastEndLove. A Managing Director and advocate he believes that if everything we did in our cities was great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it would be great for everyone. Lanrick was one half of #JacksLibraryTour, where he and his 5-year-old son visited all 100 Toronto Public Libraries using public transit. He is a year-round urban cyclist who champions protected cycling infrastructure in multiple forms. Taking a page out of his improv training with the Second City, he celebrates the concept of “Yes, And,” in every aspect of urban life.

Chantal Stepa has been eating, living and loving local as the Manager of Withrow Park Farmers’ Market since 2016. Summer after summer Chantal has worked with community members and volunteers to transform an empty park field into a vibrant and bustling community hub. She’s inspired to create spaces that promote sustainability, well-being and good food! Grounded in environmental stewardship and sustainability she has always intertwined those principles into her professional work. Chantal enjoys gardening, travelling and exploring new places, hikes in the forest, clothing swaps, supporting the circular economy and cuddling with cute animals. She can’t get enough of haskap berries, ground cherries and juicy peaches! 

Stacey Waspe is a designer, writer, brand manager and plant-nerd. She is a gardener, amateur genealogist and member of the Guild of One Name Studies. She’s into seed-saving, zero waste, circular economy and everything secondhand or DIY. Stacey loves blueberries, gluten-free brownies and will fight you for the last eggplant.

Janet Robins is an environmental consultant specializing in the design of waste diversion programs and policies for municipal and First Nation clients. Her love of nature and the need to foster a sustainable environment has resulted in her involvement at Withrow Market and its commitment to local sustainable agriculture and zero waste. She is also known as ‘Ms. Doolittle’ in the neighbourhood with her fondness for rescuing dogs, cats, hedgehogs, turtles, etc. While an enthusiastic gardener, Janet has had little success growing vegetables and relies on the market to supply her with tasty foods including raspberries, peaches, salad ingredients and prepared foods from the vendors.

Eleanor Belais 

Lauren Harvey 

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