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Sunday, October 2, 2022
Letter: Town needs to consider farmers in its sign bylaw

Dear editor:

This letter is in response to your article (The Lake Report, June 30, 2022: Signs of Trouble: Town removes farmer’s roadside ads) depicting the sign issues being experienced by White Orchard Farms owner David White.

I thank you for writing this article in and educating many readers of this very important and nasty bylaw being faced by many small farmers.

I am in full support of White Orchard Farms and empathize with David’s issues regarding the “lack of signage” bylaw.

I am the proprietor of Singing TreeFrog Farm at 488 Townline Rd., a dead-end, unimproved road where I organically grow vegetables and tender fruit. I sell to anyone needing good food at non-inflated prices. I am also an avid donator to Pam Farrell’s GROW Community Food Literacy Centre, a food store to assist low and no-income families.

I also have “lack of signage” issues that should come to the attention, front and centre, of those making the signage decisions.

When I applied for my business sign permit, I was told this sign could only be posted on my property. I was not to add directional signs at the corner of Queenston or York roads to give guidance to my produce. This is not conducive to selling any farmer’s produce. For several years, I have tried to rely on my property sign, the internet and word-of-mouth, finding very little impact with these means of advertising.

This past asparagus season (May, June), knowing the limitations of the sign bylaw in NOTL, I decided to bend the rules and try posting a sign off my property. I was given the nod of approval from a friendly neighbour allowing me to erect a simple sign on the corner of his property to see if it made a difference. Much like White Orchard’s sign, mine stated “ASPARAGUS,” with an arrow pointing to my location.

For almost two full weeks, I picked asparagus each morning and every day I sold out of all that I picked that day. Well, that income certainly put a dent in my mortgage payments! So, yes, now, without the sign, my mortgage is at stake, as farming is my only income.

Everyone coming to the farm commented that this simple “ASPARAGUS” sign was the trigger for their visits. When they learned that I had other produce, they would come back to buy more produce.

I dutifully removed the sign at the end of the asparagus harvest, trying to be a good farming citizen, only to find a total lack of traffic once again.

Everywhere you go in Niagara-on-the-Lake, winery, brewery and distillery directional signs are seen off-property of these businesses. Why is the little farmer not given the same privileges?

For those making the signage decisions, do they understand that they are contributing to breaking small farming industry in this area?

Council needs to revisit this signage issue as soon as possible. I am being forced to put my farm up for sale after this growing season, directly due to the lack of signage.

In hopes of good decisions soon.

Esther Lucier
Singing TreeFrog Farm