Archive for August, 2008

The debate about Clonakilty Market continues on C103, but unfortunately only the pro side is being represented. Other than Cionnaith O Suilleabhain, the councillors have stayed off the airwaves. In the interests of presenting the other side of the argument I was glad to receive a copy of Peter Walsh’s letter to the local business community:

3 Pearse St




Dear Business Owner/Rate Payer

I feel compelled, as a Town Councillor and Town Centre trader, to issue a statement on The “Proposed Clonakilty Market” which is to be located in Kent St. Car Park and feel it necessary to point out my concerns and reservations about the threat it poses to businesses in Clonakilty Town Centre.

I wish to point out a few facts:

  • This is not a “farmers market”, in fact the main pro-poser markets “olives” and is using some local intersted parties to front this market when in fact, most of the marketers are not from the locality.
  • The proposed site being used is taking invaluable parking/access away from your business which you pay rates each year to maintain, and, on the busiest day of the week when it is most needed.
  • Although you may feel that it may not pose competition to your business directly, the precedent set today may encourage otheres to set up in the future.
  • The “Market” is in direct conflict with the by-laws of Clonakilty Town Council
  • Each and every Year!, when you pay your rent, rates, repak, refuse, water-in/water-out (and waster water license!!) energy bills, imro/ppi or whether its Christmas lights, summer flowers, community donations, remember who (and who does not!) pay the bills.
  • This market undermines the rate collection capacity of Clonakilty Town Council and threatens the capacity of the council to pay for essential projects. i.e. footpath upgrades, playground, housing etc…
  • This market poses a Health & Safety Issue to pedestrians and users of the Car Park. There has been no consultation with Clonakilty Town Council or the Gardai to this point.
  • Anyone who tells you that this Market will bring business to town is misleading you! People come to Clonakilty Town Cente to avail of essential services, some of which are provided 6/7 days a week by you and others and often at unsociable hours. TO undermine these services is to undermine the survival of the Town Centre.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my opinions on this matter and I wish you every success. If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call me.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Walsh (#phone number#)

If anyone would like to add their views here by way of support or challenge, please feel free to post a comment.

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A new Clonakilty Market is due to be launched this Friday but it seems that not everyone is happy about the proposed location.

The first I heard about the new market was this message from Giana Ferguson:

YOU ARE WARMLY INVITED TO THE LAUNCH OF CLONAKILTY MARKET BY DARINA ALLEN On Friday 8th August 2008 –  at 12.30 in Spiller’s Lane Car Park (by The Credit Union)

The Friends of Clonakilty Market have arranged for you a list of some of the very finest Local and Seasonal foods: 
Organic Vegetables, Fresh Fish, Locally Baked Breads, Gluten free or traditional,
Rashers and sausages, Olives, dips, sun-dried tomatoes, jams, chutneys, sushi
Farmhouse Cheeses, freshly brewed coffee and lemon juice… and much more….
(Trader’s 7.30 – Market begins from 8.30 – OFFICIAL OPENING AT 12.30)
Gik on 087 6775600 or 023 58800
Now it seems that the town council has not approved the use of this location and instead suggested moving to the car park by the Community School (they were offered 6 parking spaces). I think most people would agree that this would be a step down. The original market on Thursday has been taking place in the courtyard of O’Donovans Hotel for the last 2 years which is just over the wall from the proposed Spillers Lane location. It has definitely fallen a long way from the dizzy heights in reached in 2004/05 before Mahon Point market opened and personal conflicts came to a head. At that time it was located on McCurtain Hill. The original Clonakilty Farmers Market has been a great launching pad for quite a number of local producers and in my view has great potential to benefit the town as well. I’m surprised at local business traders objecting, I thought that this whole argument about the benefits of market to towns had been won. Furthermore the market stallholders have agreed to pay a licence fee of €10/day to the town council, which more than covers their contribution in rates.
Anyway, it sounds like Friday is going to be interesting as the market group appears intent on going ahead with setting up at Spillers Lane car park and invoking trading rights from 1613AD. Please come along if you want to support the market and lets try to get it off to a fresh start.
Correction 07/08/08:
I had previously thought this was a relaunch of the original Clonakilty Farmers Market, but in fact this is a new market. My apologies to the traders involved in the Thursday Clonakilty Farmers Market for giving the wrong impression. The Thursday Farmers Market will continue to operate in O’Donovans courtyard.

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Farmers around the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief with the news that the World Trade talks in Geneva have broken down after 7 years of on-again, off-again negotiations. One hopes that a win-win solution will eventually be found but it is encouraging to see that the deal breaker was a refusal on the part of developing countries, particularly India and China, and also the US to sell-out their farmers by implementing full free trade without subsidies. Irish farmers were under no illusion about how high they ranked on the scale of priorities for the EU, as represented by Peter Mandelson, but in poorer countries there is simply no alternative but to keep people working productively on the land. At a global level it is clear that free trade is potentially the enemy of sustainability when industrialized agriculture looks to make a killing rather than helping families make a living. In trying to exploit distant, often turbulent global markets, industrial agriculture artificially boosts production beyond nature’s restorative capacity, focuses on cash rather than food, consumes vast quantities of fossil fuels and petrochemicals and removes people from farming.

Perhaps in backing off temporarily from the free trade ideal we have an opportunity to take a serious look at how we want food to be produced so that as many people as possible can make a reasonable living from farming. And so that they can make that living without polluting the water, degrading the soil, wiping out threatened species or warming the planet. A new consensus is needed about what constitutes sustainable food production. So it is timely indeed that all stake-holders in food production across the entire island of Ireland, be they farmers, food producers or distributors are being encouraged to have their voice heard at a major, one-day conference this September. Terra Madre Ireland, which will be held in Waterford on September 5, will bring together a host of international experts, state bodies, retailers, growers and food producers to listen, learn and contribute to debate and policy-making on the future of Irish food.

Terra Madre Ireland, literally Mother Earth, is being facilitated by the Slow Food movement and is based on a model developed in Italy, where two world congresses of food communities have been held, the first in 2004 and then again in 2006. I was fortunate enough to attend both and found the experience at once humbling and inspiring. The concept of a food community recognizes the interconnections and vital roles played by farmers, processors, distributors, retailers, academics, food writers and consumers in getting food from the soil or the sea to the table. Slowfood tracked down and brought together 1,600 communities from every corner of the planet: from the reindeer breeders of Magadan in Siberia to the hatahata fishermen of the port of Kitaura in Japan, from the raisin producers of Herat in Afghanistan to the cheesemakers of West Cork, from North American farmers markets to daddawala communities in India, who every day get on their bikes and deliver about 100,000 packed meals to the office workers of Mumbai. In a series of themed workshops each community was invited to tell their story and listen to others. My first impression was the beauty, ingenuity and simplicity of traditional systems the world over that for generations, sometimes millennia, have balanced the needs of farmers, consumers and the environment. My second was the speed with which these are being lost.

West Cork is certainly not immune from threats to its traditional foods. We have all but lost wild smoked salmon, raw milk cheese makers are having to fight hard to keep ahead of the regulators, almost all of the abbatoirs have been shut down, beef and lamb are subsidised beyond their sales value and as far as I am aware there are only 2 makers of traditional black pudding, i.e. using fresh blood, a product that once enjoyed tremendous variations in style from local butchers throughout the region. One of the responses by Slowfood Ireland to this threat has been the creation of the Ark of Taste. The Irish Slow Food Ark collects information about food that is important to Ireland’s history, culture, economy and physical environment but is experiencing some kind of threat. The threat could come, for example, from loss of species, loss of traditional skills, neglect or high cost compared to industrially produced foods. The impact of such threats can be on taste, nutritional value or the environment in which the food grows. Products made in West Cork that have been put into the Ark to date include edible seaweeds, kiln-toasted oatmeal from Macroom and fresh blood puddings. Aveen Henry from Church Cross, Skibbereen and UCC, is the Commissioner for the Irish Ark and is convening one of the dozens of workshops at the Terra Madre conference in Waterford. “The workshop will be a chance to point out to the Ministers and policy makers present the many ways in which these important foods contribute to the economic and social well being of the region. We’re going to debate a motion that there should be a minimum quota of local foods in every retail outlet. We’d like to see supports for these foods and to help mark out regional distinctiveness on the basis of particular foods.”

Meanwhile Colin Sage, who lives near Kilbrittan and also works at UCC is convening a workshop on developing a strategy for sustainable food production. “It is vital that we begin a process of reducing the energy intensity of our food, and especially decouple food supply from fossil fuel use. We also have to tackle the logistics of food supply chains that deliver increasing quantities of food over greater distances adding significantly to the problem of food miles and carbon footprints. Yet the power to improve this situation lies in the hands of consumers and reflect the decisions that we make about what food we buy, how we eat, and what we throw away. We believe the Minister can stimulate a national debate that would help move us toward a more sustainable food production strategy.”

The conference is being backed by all of the major farming organisations. Catherine Buckley from Rylane and current National President of Macra na Feirme is keen to emphasise role of the farming community in the process. ‘Macra na Feirme welcomes the Terra Madre initiative to Ireland and believes that it will provide an opportunity to emphasise the sheer importance of encouraging young people into agriculture and the food industry. We need more educated young people to see farming and the food industry as a viable and attractive career choice. For this to happen the industry needs to move away from focusing upon commodity production to focusing upon offering quality foods to discerning consumers in Ireland and abroad.’

Other plans during the four-day festival include a monster barbecue for 1,000 people in Waterford City, a major Farmers Market, a Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony, culinary demonstrations, tours to artisan food manufacturers, visits to speciality producers and best practice farms, as well tastings, picnics and competitions – all arranged in a convivial atmosphere around the celebration and sharing of local food. If you are interested in finding out more about the conference or attending any of the events have a look at http://www.terramadreireland.com .

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