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Longtime president, treasurer leaving Newmarket Farmers' Market 'in really good hands'

David Cooper and Jackie Playter are both stepping down from leadership roles ahead of 2022 season
2022 03 30 - Newmarket Farmers market - JQ
Newmarket Farmers' Market president Dave Cooper has stepped down from the position.

Longtime Newmarket Farmers’ Market president Dave Cooper said the market has been able to develop well as a community gathering spot since its 1999 inception.

It has been wonderful to be a part of the market, as both a vendor and a board member, he said. But after 12 years in the role, including two years heading it through the pandemic, he has decided to step down. His booth will also be departing.

“It’s a great group of vendors and board members and I’ve always enjoyed working with the town,” he said. "It’s an amazing market, that has huge support … That’s what kept me going so long.”

The market is undergoing a leadership change ahead of its 2022 season. In addition to Cooper, treasurer and founding member Jackie Playter is also retiring from her position. The association is also bringing a new secretary into the fold.

Playter said the market is like a family. She said it has undergone a lot of change since she was part of planning it around a dining room table but believes it has become the best in the region.

“We’re leaving it in really good hands,” Playter said.

Cathy Bartolic of Perennial Petals is stepping into the role of president. Having been with the market since its second year, she said she was sad to see Cooper step down.

“He brought a lot to the market,” she said. “He put in a lot of hours to make sure we could even open the market in 2020.”

She said she hopes to draw on the experience she had running a couple of other farmers markets in Toronto. 

“I’m really looking forward to working with everyone else on the board,” she said. “Newmarket Farmers' Market is a great market, but hopefully, we can make it even better and attract more people.” 

Market manager Katy Bennett said Cooper and Playter will be missed. But she added she has good feelings about the market going forward, particularly with the possibility of fewer health measures needed. 

“We have a good team of people,” she said. “My future outlook is excitement." 

Playter said the market policies have led to success, such as keeping a high percentage of farmers and requiring them to bring mostly produce they have grown themselves. 

But she said change can be a good thing, adding new treasurer Rebecca Alton is more adept than her with technology. 

“It’s always good to have some young people come up with some young ideas,” she said. “I feel confident that the market will prosper and go ahead with the new board."

Cooper said he hopes to have some extra time to work on his farm but will still involved with the board as past president for a while. He said being president was a great experience and he enjoyed organizing events, musicians, and even playing guitar on the stage.

He said COVID-19 was challenging for the market but showed its ability to change and adapt.

“I suspect the market’s going to carry on just the same as always and do really well,” he said. “It changes its appearance, the vendors change sometimes, but essentially, it keeps on going, and I think it will for many years.”

The next market season is due to start at Riverwalk Commons May 7.