Wednesday, March 6, 2013

follow up


I really appreciate all the supportive emails and comments and conversations in reaction to my crazy discouraged post. I especially appreciate the "authority" figures - not my specific ones - but older humans who tend to be authority figures - offering support and affirmation of my feelings.

I can't explain the dss drama but I thought it might be helpful to spell out the over-the-top farmer's market snafu that made everything that much more frustrating.

We noticed this post put out by North Country NPR's The Dirt. It was posted on fb by several friends and we were concerned.

The air was tense for the farmers at the Food from the Farm event held by Cornell Extension and Adirondack Harvest on March 2nd. It was very exciting to see so many farmers gathered together as well as such an enthusiastic crowd of local people interested in what local farmers are producing. I wish the winter farmer's market was this active in Plattsburgh. It was exhilarating! I talked nonstop for the three hour event as there were constantly people gathered around our table. Even with all that excitement there was tension knowing that there was this issue around CSA pickups at farmer's markets that was not being addressed.

Near the end of the event I was able to connect with another farmer who I'd heard of but never met. This person filled me in on some of the details that were missing from a fuller story. The issue was that Farm A had arranged to have their CSA pickup at Farm B's table at various markets they participate in - without Farm A ever signing up to be a member of that farmer's market cooperative. When the Farmer's Market Cooperative Powers-That-Be discovered this, they put a ban on CSA pickups at their markets.

Then they called for a meeting with all farms who offer CSA pickups at the markets. None of these farmers showed up to the meeting.

We learned later that the meeting was called with minimal notice and some of the farmer's had prior engagements, others had last minute farm needs and couldn't leave their farms.

Sunday, March 3, the Farmers Market Cooperative held their annual meeting. The time, date, and location were made very public and people were encouraged to join the cooperative in order to have a vote in this issue.

Given our family commitments we agreed that my dad would attend the meeting, while the other three adults worked on other projects.

4 hours later and my dad returned home - the meeting wasn't over but the voting was done and he was done with the meeting. It was very tense with emotions running high. He explained that overall there was a lot of miscommunication and confusion around what a CSA was exactly. It seemed that the meeting hopefully clarified that somewhat. It also came out that Farm A had attempted to become members of the Farmer's Market Cooperative but had not been allowed until Sunday's member's meeting.

There was also evidently a lot of talk about the bylaws concerning how much produce can be brought in to sell at the market without actually having been produced by the vendor. There are rules regarding this limit and what signage is required should someone choose to sell products that are not of their own making. These rules are not being enforced, currently - to the detriment of the consumers, farmers, and the markets themselves.

This whole scenario is a perfect example of people assuming the worst of each other and wanting what's best for them ultimately, while professing that they want what's best for all. Humans!

In the end someone closely connected with Farm A (but not part of Farm A) was voted as vice-president of the board ... so that seems like a step in the right direction. Hopefully local farmers become more honest and authentic with each other. If not, it's the entire community that will suffer!

*This was posted here instead of on the farm blog because I'm still nervous and uncertain about how open to be.

*The Plattsburgh Summer Market and the Plattsburgh Winter Market (managed separately and not to be confused - but are confused, understandably) are NOT part of THIS Farmer's Market Cooperative - just to be even more confusing! I would love to write a post clarifying THAT - hmmm ... any interest?

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