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John DeBruin walks with his son, Hudson, 9, through cattle grazing on their property.

Leah Thompson/Santa Maria Times

John DeBruin walks with his son, Hudson, 9, through cattle grazing on their property.


Farmers Market Harvests Discontent

New Plaintiffs Join Antitrust Suit


Thursday, January 31, 2013
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Mary and David Wellington built their reputation on jams, jellies, and preserves homemade with fruit from their Goleta orchards. Participants in the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market since 1983, the Wellingtons even taught the current board president, Molly Gean of Harry’s Berries in Oxnard, their jam-making process. Now, Cat Moss, the Wellingtons’ daughter — who has run Wellington Farm since 2005 — alleges in an amended lawsuit filed with the Santa Barbara Superior Court last week that Gean is treating her as competition and deliberately limiting her access to markets, thereby violating antitrust law.

The original complaint was filed last month by Jeff Hendrickson and Roxanne Renner, a married couple who own Santa Rita Flower Farm near Lompoc, but new plaintiffs — Moss and John and Nadine de Bruin, owners of Dey Dey’s Best Beef Ever — have joined the suit, which is being pursued by Christman, Kelley & Clarke.

In violation of California’s Cartwright Act, the lawsuit alleges, “Local, certified organic producers are excluded in favor of corporate, out-of-town operations that falsely claim their product is ‘organic.’” Furthermore, the plaintiffs argue, members of the Farmers Market board — seven of the nine members do not live in Santa Barbara County — protect each other and their cronies, thereby fixing prices.

Leah Thompson/Santa Maria Times

John DeBruin admires 2-day-old chicks at his family’s farm.

“It’s like an old boy’s club,” said John de Bruin, who began raising grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free cattle in the Santa Rita Hills west of Buellton in 2003. The de Bruins joined the association in 2009. They sell beef and chicken at the Wednesday Solvang market and Sunday Goleta market. Initially, they were forbidden from selling chicken, which they also raise on their ranch.

They were put on probation in 2010, presumably for selling chickens at the Thursday Goleta market, an accusation they deny. Nadine explained that they sold three chickens after the only chicken vendor at the market ran out, and only then with the express permission of market manager Sam Edelman. John was prohibited from running for the board during their year probation, he said. (One of the other litigants, Renner, ran unsuccessfully for the board.)

None of the plaintiffs in the suit have gained access to the lucrative Tuesday and Saturday markets in downtown Santa Barbara. Wellington Farm lost its spot after its kitchen flooded in 2005, temporarily precluding the owners’ ability to make preserves. Around the same time, Moss took over the farm from her mother and went on the wait list. To improve her odds of moving off the list, she developed products like sugar-free jams not offered by other vendors. All of the plaintiffs claim that the wait lists maintained by the Farmers Market are inaccurate and nontransparent, and that the board does not follow a consistent protocol when deciding who moves into open slots.

By Paul Wellman

Cat Moss in her Goleta home with some of her jam.

The suit names the board, as well as Gean specifically and Sam Edelman, the nonprofit’s general manager. Gean did not return calls from The Santa Barbara Independent. Edelman did but said he’d been advised by legal counsel not to publicly address the allegations — a more insinuating one being that Edelman uses Farmers Market equipment for his personal wholesale business. Edelman has worked at the market since he was in high school. The Farmers Market lawyer, Tim Trager, said he would prefer to let the legal process play out rather than to comment on the case.

It remains to be decided whether members of the same organization can “conspire” or whether the Farmers Market is subject to the Cartwright antitrust law. The most interesting questions raised by the suit, however, may lie outside of the legal process. Namely, does the market reflect the desires of the community?

Market rules prioritize proximity to the market location but say nothing about “organic” products or the size of the farm, even if folk wisdom says that the market was initially created for family farms that have no other means of reaching their customers.

Some farmers believe that the board should include a non-grower who would have no financial conflict of interest when reviewing applications. One 30-year veteran suggested two such boardmembers — one from the Santa Barbara area and one from outside the county. The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Matthew Da Vega, suggested that when the board is deciding whether the inclusion of a new seller will saturate the market with a specific product that they allow for a trial period.

Sandy Newman, who grows off-season blueberries at Forbidden Fruit Orchards in Lompoc, said she has been trying to get into the Farmers Market for five years and that her customers are “so angry” she isn’t a member. Instead, she sells in Los Angeles–area markets. Summing up the question of competitiveness that it is now up to the legal system to disentangle, she said of the markets, “They’re all restrictive in some regard.”

FULL DISCLOSURE: The daughter of Santa Barbara Independent Editor in Chief Marianne Partridge is on the Farmers Market’s Board of Directors. Additionally, Farmers Market lawyer Tim Trager is representing Partridge in her ongoing litigation with Independent Publisher Randy Campbell.

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I have been following the plight of the small local grower trying to break-in to the SBCFMA since 2006 when the Indy ran a lead story about the SBCFMA policies (check it online.) This organization is a sham and should not be allowed to conduct business on city owned property.
Also I have to question why the Indy did not run the disclosure about their family ties to the SBCFMA's board in the original article a month ago. Did they forget? But, for the record, the editor-in-chief of the Indy own Rancho San Julian, the ONLY farmer selling beef at the two largest SBCFMA markets, Tuesday and Saturday. I am not a lawyer, but, a board member keeping out all competition sounds like the definition of anti-trust to me. Come on SB, demand change! And come on Indy, if we can't look to you for fair news coverage, where are we to look? The NewsPress? I hope it doesn't come to that.

salvatore (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 1:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To See a Copy of the Lawsuit and See Other News Articles About the Lawsuit go to the link below

http://christmankelley.info/?p=446

mdsurf (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 1:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

San Julian IS NOT the only beef seller at the Saturday market. There is another vendor, Greg Nauta, who has been selling beef and pork at the market since 2004. His display is not as cute as San Julian's, just a couple of big white coolers, but his meat is very good. He doesn't come to the Tuesday market, but Jimenez Farm is there, and they sell lamb, pork, goat meat, and rabbits. SBCFMA is not perfect, and the Board could use one or two community members on it, but come on people, our Farmers Markets are by far the best place to buy food in this town. Where else are you going to go, Whole Foods?

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 11:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think they should loosen up on how many vendors can sell certain items.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 1:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

They need to make their admissions policy clear, and they need to abide faithfully by these policies, with Board members recusing themselves from voting on the admission of any vendor with whom they would be in direct competition.
SBCFMA has a link to their application form online. http://www.sbfarmersmarket.org/forms.php
It states on that page that they are not allowing any new growers at the Goleta Markets. I wonder why not, because it look to me like they have room for additional vendors.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 7:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

IIRC from a previous Indy article, some members of the board (perhaps the majority?) are made up of vendors from the Farmer's Market.

If you look at the makeup of boards in the corporate world, that would not be allowed to happen as the potential for conflicts of interests would be too great.

Then again, you want a board that is knowledgable about market operations. But that is typically handled by non-board staff or the COB who is usually a staff member.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 8:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hard to deny how people who sell stuff would not have a direct conflict of interest when they decide if other people who sell the same stuff get to sell that stuff in the same market.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Prioritizing nonregional corporate farms over regional indie and organic farms is indefensible. One would think (such as i assumed) that any regional farm that followed health and grow regulations would be eligible.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 11:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken, there are no "corporate farms" at the market. They are all family-owned farms. Some are larger than others. You can ask to look at any grower's certificate and it will list the address of the farm, owner's name, size of the land under cultivation, and every crop the farmer grows, as well as the amounts. The board of SBCFMA is not prioritizing non-regional farms over local ones, but they also may not be paying enough attention to what this community cares about and loves best about the farmers market, and they need to change that attitude. As for the first plaintiff in the lawsuit, Santa Rita Flower Farm, I checked his stand a few weeks ago at the Sunday Goleta market, and he was not selling flowers but winter vegetables, which are already plentiful, so before we tar and feather the leadership of SBCFMA, we should wait to hear their side of the story.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 1:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well with that clarification thanks to a litter of black poodles, I think I shall strive to stay out of these muddy waters from here on out.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 1:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There are a number of corporate farms at the market. In fact the presidents farm is incorporated. The term "family farm" is used by everyone because their family members work for the corporation. And in response to bpoodles comment about shopping at Whole Foods, at least they do not LIE about which produce is ORGANIC. Try walking down the market and ask each grower if they are organic. This is a yes or no question, not "yes but we choose not to pay for certification," or "yes but we can't afford the cost." Yes or no. There are huge strawberry growers from Oxnard doing millions of dollars a year in sales lying to their customers, many of them children, "yes we are ORGANIC, just not certified." When in fact, strawberry production uses some of the most lethal chemicals in agriculture. I feel the SBCFMA is purposely misleading our community. We deserve better.

salvatore (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 3:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't think "the people" should be held hostage by in-house fighting. This should never have made the press. How about asking both vendors to withdraw from the market, just for complaining.

suzyque (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 7:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I guess it depends what you mean by corporate farm. To me it means a large holding whose absentee owners drive a desk rather than a tractor, and never get dirt under their fingernails. Just because you form an LLC to protect your family doesn't make you a corporate farmer in my mind. I am no great fan of Mollie Gean, and I can't afford her strawberries, but her family does work hard to bring beautiful crops to market. You may trust Whole Foods and their certified "Organic" frozen veggies from China. I don't. Organic certification is expensive, it requires a ton of paperwork, and most of the organic "inspectors" wouldn't be able to tell a cheater unless they actually caught him with the bag of Lorsban in hand. Besides, produce at the Farmers Market is fresher, it tastes better, and if you take the time to meet the growers you learn pretty quickly who is trustworthy and who is not. Buy your strawberries in season from Lane Farms, John Givens, or Tom Shepherd. None of those guys uses methyl bromide, and they are all local. Lane and Givens are in Goleta, and Tom Shepherd in Carpinteria. SBCFMA is not perfect, but it is pretty wonderful when compared to the alternatives. Oh, and if you want to know who is using what chemicals, ask the County Agricultural Commissioner. By law all growers have to file a monthly use report with the Ag Commissioner, listing what chemicals they used and on what crops. Do they always report everything? Maybe not, but it is still more reliable than an "organic" stamp from China.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 8:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It has been said that "The perfect is the enemy of the good". The Farmers Marker is not perfect, some of the allegations against the board definitely need to be investigated but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. The SB Farmers Market remains a gem and I hope that these law suits don't screw up a really good thing.

Noletaman (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2013 at 12:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am becoming more and more disenchanted with our local Farmers' Markets - the prices are getting too high, and someone answer me: how can there be fresh blueberries grown in Santa Maria in early February? The website of the Solvang Blueberry farm say they have berries from May to mid-August. I think there is a lot of fakery going on with regard to origin of fruits and vegetables.

wantthetruth (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Solvang and Santa Maria are very different climates. Blueberries can flower and fruit nearly year round in our mild climates. At least one grower at the market uses greenhouses to grow their blueberries. That is how you can have blueberries in early February.

1234 (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2013 at 4:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What is most interesting to me is the abject lack of ignorance about how these markets are organized and what it means to be a small and/or organic farmer.
First, most farms file letters of incorporation once they reach a certain size or have a certain exposure to liability. Using the term "corporate agriculture" as a pejorative is meaningless.
Second, farmers in California file scrupulous records, comically so, about their use of pesticides; I know because we grow row crops on our NorCal ranch, both with pesticides and certified organic.
Third, Farmers Markets,not surprisingly, are as corrupt as most entities like this. They have members with self interest supposedly in charge of being objective and caring about fairness and not their own pocket book. Why? Because they are organic farmers and saving the planet they are therefore more pure than other people? Seriously?
Fourth, certified organic from China and Mexico are both jokes. And if you do not think that some of your trusted local sellers do not occasionally augment their own inventory as necessary you are buying into the mythology about the entire environment surrounding Farmers Markets.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 7:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I commend these farmers for their choice of vocation (organic farming) and for standing up to forces larger and more powerful than them. It was this sort of courage that that gave farmers in Calif. the right to sell directly to the public in the '70's. In case you do not know the history, peach farmers saw the wholesale prices drop to record lows that made it unprofitable to harvest their crops. And the laws at the time required produce to go through a middleman before it could reach the public. No direct marketing, no farmers markets. So a large group of these farmers chose to pick this unprofitable crop and dump tons of beautiful and very perishable peaches on the front lawn of the capital building in Sacramento. It did not take long before the stench of those rotting peaches, as well as, the stench of "good old boy" regulations to reach Jerry Brown's office. Within a month the rules were changed to allow farmers to sell their goods directly to the public. Thus, farmers markets were born. So while we all love our markets, we must support those that try to fix things that are wrong or unjust. Without such people, we would never of had farmers markets in the first place. Good luck with your lawsuit.

giosurfer (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I hope the Independent will ask SBCFMA for a copy of their bylaws (historic and current), and Mission Statement if they have one, and post a link to them. It would give us valuable information about what the association considers important. Given that the markets operate thanks to Conditional Use Permits granted by the City Council, we the people could then request/suggest changes if we think they are warranted.
It would be cheaper and quicker than a lawsuit, and better PR for SBCFMA if they chose to invite public participation rather than put up a wall of silence as they have done to this point.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 11:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What a bunch of over regulated losers!! This is what SB has become. Let everyone sell. A " board of misdirection" !! Greed!! $$$$$, I hate what this place has turned into!!!

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 11:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good point blackpoodles, the wall of silence does not look good. I read the article in the Santa Maria Times from last week (plaintiff's attorney posted it in the comments above as mdsurf) and the SBCFMA's lawyer had this to say, "Some people don't get into certain markets because that's just the way the (SBCFMA) markets work." What kind of explanation is that? Sounds like the schoolyard bully. I thought we had stopped using such terms as "some people." Very bad choice of words. With comments like this I see why there has been a wall of silence. At some point the wall will have to come down, the longer it takes, the worse it looks.

hikindude (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Do you mean that "just because" is not a sufficient answer for you? As farmers, the Board of SBCFMa should know what the only organisms that grow well in the dark are fungi. We need ample light and fresh air here, or the Farmers Market is going to lose the trust of the community, and everyone will lose if that happens. Judging from the comments on this board, this decay has already begun, and SBCFMA has only itself to blame for that, whether the plaintiffs have just cause of action or not.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 1:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have shopped at the markets for years and love it. But I have noticed that many of the farms are the same and the prices have skyrocketed. I do feel that such fresh, wonderful produce should cost a little more. But still for a local market to keep its local members from participating is beyond me. As a customer the more farms participating in the markets increases competition, possibly lowers prices, and makes the market and it's products more vibrant and evolving. All good for the customer and the community. By restricting competition I can only see one group that benefits, the existing growers, bringing the same old stuff with little incentive to try new stuff. I will continue to shop at the markets, but will look at the "scene" through different eyes.

sarahbofsb (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 3:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sarabofsb is correct,,, more sellers and less regulation bring greater selection and lower prices. Why not community running the farmers market instead of vested interests? Let the local farmers prosper ,,, how about some new ideas??? Any suggestions?

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, blackpoodles, the "decay" has indeed begun. The SB farmers' market has become too expensive. an open air Whole Paycheck/Foods. I used to look forward to it, would shop there regularly, but now only occasionally. It was clear to me that as gas prices increased, the price of the produce being trucked in for miles out of the County would rise, as well. And so it does. (And, of course, others driving not so far follow suit.)

It has seemed to me sadly funny that we support this organic produce market, talk about locavore, yet so many of the vegetables and fruits in the farmers' market come by truck from miles and miles away and are no more organic, perhaps less so, than that at Tri-County Produce and Trader Joe's.

The lawsuits by blowing aside the curtains, letting the light in are welcome. It's shocking to me that the Board is made primarily of non-County growers who, in turn, rule on whether local competitors can sell. Like nearly everything else in SB, it's become a victim of its popularity and now, especially the Saturday market, appeals to tourists and businesses probably more than to locals, certainly more than those of us scraping by to live here.

at_large (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2013 at 8:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tutti Frutti Farms is both local and still fairly priced IMHO.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

giosurfer-What the heck are you smoking? There were no laws that prevented farmers from selling directly to the public in Ca. The current monopoly IS PREVENTING economic vitality and an expanding producer base. Is this the new urban legend of the organic crowd?
Many farmers grew their crops under contract and under negotiated prices; I grow my organic tomatoes under a negotiated contract(you can now buy'em at Costco) but that is my free will as it insures that I will not take a loss; this is a private contract without government intervention.
Farmers markets have been legal and available as long as people have been growing food. Chinatown in San Francisco has been providing Farmers Markets for 100 years: you pull up on Grant street in your pick-up and start selling right out of the back of the thing. Yea the price of milk is regulated but that is a bizarre aberration.
We could solve the local fiefdom issue by simply opening up one of our largest parking lots, say Cabrillo at State next to the Skate Park, and have first come first served with space at a reasonable price. This is the way it used to be done and we would have lower prices, better quality, and a venue for up and coming farmers and producers to get into the economic market.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2013 at 6:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Please do a search for "jerry brown +peach farmers" and you can read how Gov. Brown in 1977 set the stage for farmers' markets (LA Times article is recommended.) Ironically they were created to help low-income urban areas have access to fresh veggies at affordable prices, after numerous supermarkets were moving from these areas. While they still offer some of the freshest produce, the part about affordable prices is obviously broken. As markets (not just farmers, but all markets) limit the products sold and producers selling them prices go up. Basic supply and demand. With only farmers on the board making decisions about who is allowed to compete with them, I can't help but think this is the reason why the prices are soooo high. Good luck farmers, you are fighting the GOOD fight.

giosurfer (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2013 at 5:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Italiansurg, as a farmer you must be aware of regulations that forbid the sale of produce unless it conforms to "standard packaging" rules. These dictate everything from the size of the box used to transport the product to number of fruit in the box and the percentage of red on the skin of an apple. They were designed by the government in its wisdom to ensure minimum quality standards, so that a supermarket manager could trust that the apples (or tomatoes) he had just ordered would be delivered as advertised. Of course, this system put small farmers at a disadvantage, rewarding large scale mono-cropping rather than biodiversity. Certified Farmers Markets were created in 1977 to offer small farmers a legal way to sell directly to the end user. Check http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/i_&_c/cfm.html for history and information about the program.
The reasoning was that since the shoppers could see for themselves what was being offered, they could discern whether something was worth buying or not. Shoppers discovered that Farmers Market produce was fresher and tastier than supermarket produce, and over the years medium size and even some quite large farms have realized that they could make more money selling 2000 pounds of fruit at a farmers market than 20000 pounds of fruit to a packing house.
Higher prices going directly to the growers for quality products is a good thing, and we need to wean ourselves of the notion that food should be cheap. Food should be nutritious, it should be tasty, it should be produced in a way that respects nature and the people who work on the farm. Don't get too fixated on whether it is in or out of County. Ojai and Ventura are closer to SB than Santa Maria, and not everything grows equally well everywhere. Besides, farmers who have been coming to our markets for decades, from way back before anyone but hippies shopped there, deserve our loyalty, whether they travel from Nipomo or Carpinteria.
Take a look at the CDFA website and learn a bit about all the rules and regulations farmers in California have to abide, then think about how hard the labor is (for those who actually do the hands-on work), how expensive the land and water and equipment, and how cruel Mother Nature can sometimes be, and then tell me that $5 for 3 pounds of the best organic carrots or $2 for a gorgeous bunch of beets (you can eat the greens too) is too much to pay. How much do you charge for your work?
If SBCFMA leadership has any sense, it will come forward with a full list of current members, where they grow, and how large their farm is. It will make a clean breast of its waiting list and why and how they allow or don't allow in new vendors. It will welcome the questions from the community and come out of it with a stronger connection to its customer base. If it fails to do so, rumors and resentments will fester, the Farmers Market will lose the trust of the community, and we will all be the poorer for it.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2013 at 1 a.m. (Suggest removal)

While some of your political inflections are lost on me bp as I do not have an opinion as to what something is worth to anyone but me, I never said that government rules in agriculture make any sense, just that farmers were never forbid from selling their product directly to consumers.
WIth regards to Farmers Markets, which I believe are their own little versions of monopolistic organized crime, I am still a believer that we should simply get some very large public space and then open it up each chosen day at a nominal cost to every producer that shows up. Amazingly, supply and demand will quickly create a working and sustainable system.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2013 at 2:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I like the Farmer's market on State Street downtown on Tuesdays but please move to Cabrillo St. by the Ocean . There's more room and cars can still drive by . When it's downtown not only does it effect businesses but nobody can drive on State Street & there's no where to park to deliver yout veggies and fruit . Whoever came up with the idea of putting it on State has no concern for the businesses or people and should be fired . This was a stupid and dumb idea .

redants (anonymous profile)
February 7, 2013 at 11:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Redants, then shut down the taxis from ever using State St. then. For now on nobody can use State St. for anything other than walking and driving from point A to B, no lingering, no Farmer's Market, no window shopping.
Jeez.
Actually downtown businesses LOVE the market because it draws foot traffic to their stores too.

Maybe if your taxi company received less safety violations the loss of two blocks once a week wouldn't be such a big deal.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 7, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dey Dey's meat products, beef, chicken, and eggs are raised in the Joel Salatin method. This entails mob grazing the cows on sections of pasture followed by a chicken mobile that allows the chickens to eat their ideal diet. These pastured products are second to none in the marketplace and are not offered by any other vendor at any of the Santa Barbara farmers markets. It is frustrating, as a consumer, to hear that our access is limited to these products by board member politics. As a community we should be doing all that we can to support our local producers of pastured organic meat and this includes full access to our farmers markets.

willr (anonymous profile)
February 20, 2013 at 10:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

For those scratching their heads at who Salatin and his method may be, here is an example of a "chicken mobile":

"Then chickens in portable coops are moved in behind them, where they dig through the cow dung to eat protein-rich fly larvae while further fertilizing the field with their droppings"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Sal...

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 20, 2013 at 10:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not unlike some of the comment threads here is it?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 20, 2013 at 10:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Italiansurg, just because something is not expressly forbidden doesn't mean it is not made impractical, unprofitable, and therefore driven out of existence. That is what Standard Packaging Requirements did to many small farms, and that's why Certified Farmers Markets were created.
I am not personally opposed to a "free-for-all" kind of marketplace, where anyone and everyone can come and sell whatever they want as long as it isn't a prohibited substance, but even a "very large public space" has its physical limits. Where do you propose it be? Who would decide how many vendors can fit in the allotted space? How often would the market happen, and who would make sure that vendors knew where to set up their stand? How would vendors apply? What criteria would be applied for admission?
Oops, seems to me like you just reinvented the Farmers Market wheel.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
February 23, 2013 at 2:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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