By Rebecca Peppiatt
A KALAMUNDA couple, who are trying to establish a weekly farmers market in Mundaring, has slammed the Shire for poor communication, unfair rates and lack of support for a community initiative.
Andrew and Mandy Osenton say they instigated a farming and garden style market for Mundaring late last year in a similar fashion to the successful and long-running Kalamunda Farmers Market and Kalamunda Garden Festival.
They claim that while initially the idea was in part developed with the Mundaring Chamber of Commerce, they eventually went ahead with the venture alone after setbacks with the first markets held in May this year.
Now they say they are being charged by the hour to use part of Sculpture Park for the event, currently fortnightly, which is crippling its growth and future sustainability.
“When we got up and running there was no discussions about paying a fee for the land,” Mr Osenton, also a recently-elected City of Kalamunda councillor said.
“They said they told us verbally back in February but we said, where is that in writing? It wasn’t.
“We had no idea they were going to start charging us for using a bit of gravel.”
The couple state they charge stall holders $40 per event, called the Mundaring Garden and Farmers Market, unless they are a not-for-profit or a child stallholder.
They said everything they earn from stallholders is pumped back into the event’s marketing, advertising, signage and entertainment and that being charged $29 an hour by the Shire for using the grounds when it wasn’t allegedly part of the initial agreement is unfair and detrimental to the event’s viability.
“$6000 a year for a weekly event is such a lot of money,” Mr Osenton said.
“This isn’t a business for us.
“We’re putting our own money into this to get it going and we’re doing it because we’re super passionate about small business.”
But Shire chief executive Jonathan Throssell said the venture was supported with a three-month trial period where the usual fee was waived and that the couple were told the fees would be implemented after that period.
The matter is coming before councillors at next Tuesday’s meeting where it has been recommended by Shire staff that the market’s hourly fees remain because they have “elements of a commercial operation” to them.
The Osentons are also requesting the event’s operation be upped from fortnightly to weekly.
“The Shire is supportive of events which contribute to local employment opportunities, help to attract visitors to the area and provide community benefit,” Mr Throssell said.
“The council report recommends that the Mundaring Garden and Farmers Market be allowed to increase its frequency from fortnightly to weekly to support these goals.”
The couple said they were happy to pay a nominal fee for the grounds once the event is viable.
A City of Kalamunda spokesperson said the Kalamunda Farmers Market and the Kalamunda Garden Festival are not charged site fees as it is a sponsor and has a partnership agreement with the Kalamunda Chamber of Commerce.