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Gleason Ranch…sausage?

Local rancher turns to pork while her chicken production recovers

It’s been a bittersweet year for Nancy Prebilich and the Gleason Ranch family. Beloved by discerning local chefs for her pasture-raised chickens, lamb and pork, the West County rancher was featured in both Food & Wine magazine (where her lamb made the cover) and on “Meat in America” on The History Channel this spring.

But behind the scenes, Prebilich has struggled to keep her family business alive after the recent death of her parents, losing her space at the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market, the weather-related devastation of her chicken flock and the closure of Fulton Valley Farms, a custom meat processing plant that catered to small-scale ranchers in the North Bay. She now has to drive more than three hours to the nearest USDA plant.

“My sister and I are just strung out. We’re having to make up for lost hands combined with a serious financial impact. We just haven’t been able to get our chicken production back up,” she said. Though they do still have enough chickens to fulfill their CSA orders, their signature slow-growing heritage breed chickens are still in short supply and the ranch has been unable to wholesale to grocery stores and restaurants. “We’re plugging along and trying to get it back in the cases and on restaurant plates,” she said.

Despite the shortage, the local food community has rallied behind Prebilich. This spring, Stark Restaurants made a significant pre-payment to the ranch, committing to using the Gleason’s goats for their Monday night goat roasts at Monti’s Rotisserie as well as suckling pigs, rabbit, lamb and pork for catering events. “They’ve really helped me get through some tough times,” said Prebilich.

Most recently, Oliver’s Markets has made a financial commitment to the ranch by purchasing Gleason pork for their house-brand sausage. Hot Italian and Sweet Italian sausage is selling for $8.99/pound, a price that helps her continue to keep the ranch afloat and raise her Duroc pigs.

Though she still has a long road ahead, Prebilich is determined to continue her family’s nearly 100-year legacy in Sonoma County. “I tell people if you want my chicken tomorrow, please buy my pork today.”

– Read BiteClub’s original article: “Saving Gleason Ranch”

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Comments

23 thoughts on “Gleason Ranch…sausage?

  1. I am still dismayed as to why local businesses such as Gleason Ranch, The Handmade Pantry and our company (Killer Baking) have been kicked out of our local farmers market because of one woman’s ego-the market manager. How can we stand up and work for ourselves and bring quality food to our local community if the people in power are allowed to treat people this way. No really, how? Does anyone have an answer that won’t cost us a small fortune to hire attorneys?

  2. I am still dismayed as to why local businesses such as Gleason Ranch, The Handmade Pantry and our company (Killer Baking) have been kicked out of our local farmers market because of one woman’s ego-the market manager. How can we stand up and work for ourselves and bring quality food to our local community if the people in power are allowed to treat people this way. No really, how? Does anyone have an answer that won’t cost us a small fortune to hire attorneys?

  3. I personally know a number of vendors at the Santa Rosa Market, and have heard the stories of how the manager has told certain vendors they are not to speak to certain other vendors…..huh? What gives this woman the right to tell people who to speak to? Her revoking the Gleason’s selling privileges in Sebastopol because of something that did or did not happen in Santa Rosa is absurd, to say the least. As a patron of the SR market, I for one would love to see new management at that market. It’s certainly gone down-hill lately….

  4. I personally know a number of vendors at the Santa Rosa Market, and have heard the stories of how the manager has told certain vendors they are not to speak to certain other vendors…..huh? What gives this woman the right to tell people who to speak to? Her revoking the Gleason’s selling privileges in Sebastopol because of something that did or did not happen in Santa Rosa is absurd, to say the least. As a patron of the SR market, I for one would love to see new management at that market. It’s certainly gone down-hill lately….

  5. The Handmade Pantry was also kicked out of the Santa Rosa Farmers Market. Shortly after the removal of Gleason Ranch. Why??? Because supposedly I was “rude and discourteous” to the market manager because I refused to give her information she was demanding about another vendor.

    The other reason why The Handmade Pantry was removed by the market manager was because I was said to be “an accomplice to Gleason Ranch in their taking of market records without permission.” The only thing I did was carry the copy machine out of the room!

    After many, many months of being threatened and bullied by the market manager, and after many, many attempts to get the sitting BOD to address the issue and situations. NOTHING was done!

    After the removal of The Handmade Pantry from the Santa Rosa Farmers Market I was approached by one of the current board members expressing how sorry she was for what happened. She told me there was nothing the board could do to prevent what happened! Seriously!?!?

    The market manager works FOR THE MEMBERS AND THE BOARD. Not the other way around.

  6. This is Sheana Davis here in Sonoma~
    As a past vendor of the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market, I have faced the same challenges from the market management as Nancy Gleason has faced at the Santa Rosa Certified Farmers Market. I was removed from the market for “Speaking my opinion”. Yes, I did ask questions as I wanted to know the process of how the market is run, who runs the market and what are our rights as a vendor. When I asked the manager, I received no reply and was removed from the market. When I went public to the City of Sonoma Council Meetings and asked for accountability, transparency at the market, they made the change to new management. It is my understanding that if a not for profit utilizes public property, that all organizations are to be held to the same standards. Yet, I feel the SVCFM is not held to the same standards. My original questions are as follows:

    1. Who is on the board of directors? As a vendor I would like to know who is governing the market.
    2. What are the bylaws? As I was removed from the market for violating a bylaw, yet I still, 6 months later do not know what the bylaws are.
    3. When and where are the meetings held? As a vendor I would like to know if I have a question or comment, that I may attend the meetings.
    4. What is the process to apply? As a vendor, how do I request an application?
    5. If accepted to the market, what are the rules and regulations? If denied what is the appeal process. As I have still not been offered an appeal process to re-enter the market.
    I have had threats verbally, in writing and in my shop by market related people. I have had to take a step back and re focus my business as it was not worth the stress of participating at the market. Yes, I would love to be part of our local Friday Morning Farmers Market, as I raised my daughter working at the Friday morning market, made many friends and community relations. At this time, I look to our Sonoma County Park & Recreation and our Board of Supervisors to hold the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market Board accountable….I can only hope. As of May 2011, we set up and sell our cheeses at the Tuesday night Valley of the Moon Farmers Market. We have a great spot, the management is present and available, our sales are great, we have really nice neighbors who we each back one another up and most of all the community is enjoying a true evening on our Sonoma Plaza! Thank you, Sheana Davis,

  7. The Handmade Pantry was also kicked out of the Santa Rosa Farmers Market. Shortly after the removal of Gleason Ranch. Why??? Because supposedly I was “rude and discourteous” to the market manager because I refused to give her information she was demanding about another vendor.

    The other reason why The Handmade Pantry was removed by the market manager was because I was said to be “an accomplice to Gleason Ranch in their taking of market records without permission.” The only thing I did was carry the copy machine out of the room!

    After many, many months of being threatened and bullied by the market manager, and after many, many attempts to get the sitting BOD to address the issue and situations. NOTHING was done!

    After the removal of The Handmade Pantry from the Santa Rosa Farmers Market I was approached by one of the current board members expressing how sorry she was for what happened. She told me there was nothing the board could do to prevent what happened! Seriously!?!?

    The market manager works FOR THE MEMBERS AND THE BOARD. Not the other way around.

  8. This is Sheana Davis here in Sonoma~
    As a past vendor of the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market, I have faced the same challenges from the market management as Nancy Gleason has faced at the Santa Rosa Certified Farmers Market. I was removed from the market for “Speaking my opinion”. Yes, I did ask questions as I wanted to know the process of how the market is run, who runs the market and what are our rights as a vendor. When I asked the manager, I received no reply and was removed from the market. When I went public to the City of Sonoma Council Meetings and asked for accountability, transparency at the market, they made the change to new management. It is my understanding that if a not for profit utilizes public property, that all organizations are to be held to the same standards. Yet, I feel the SVCFM is not held to the same standards. My original questions are as follows:

    1. Who is on the board of directors? As a vendor I would like to know who is governing the market.
    2. What are the bylaws? As I was removed from the market for violating a bylaw, yet I still, 6 months later do not know what the bylaws are.
    3. When and where are the meetings held? As a vendor I would like to know if I have a question or comment, that I may attend the meetings.
    4. What is the process to apply? As a vendor, how do I request an application?
    5. If accepted to the market, what are the rules and regulations? If denied what is the appeal process. As I have still not been offered an appeal process to re-enter the market.
    I have had threats verbally, in writing and in my shop by market related people. I have had to take a step back and re focus my business as it was not worth the stress of participating at the market. Yes, I would love to be part of our local Friday Morning Farmers Market, as I raised my daughter working at the Friday morning market, made many friends and community relations. At this time, I look to our Sonoma County Park & Recreation and our Board of Supervisors to hold the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market Board accountable….I can only hope. As of May 2011, we set up and sell our cheeses at the Tuesday night Valley of the Moon Farmers Market. We have a great spot, the management is present and available, our sales are great, we have really nice neighbors who we each back one another up and most of all the community is enjoying a true evening on our Sonoma Plaza! Thank you, Sheana Davis,

  9. I believe the Gleason’s were tossed out of the SR Farmers Market for exercising their right to free speech. I watched them question financial irregularities and abuses of power. While most vendors have learned to sit in the back of the bus, the Gleason’s refused.

    Their superior products are a reflection of the people behind them! I go out of my way to buy Gleason Ranch products.

  10. I believe the Gleason’s were tossed out of the SR Farmers Market for exercising their right to free speech. I watched them question financial irregularities and abuses of power. While most vendors have learned to sit in the back of the bus, the Gleason’s refused.

    Their superior products are a reflection of the people behind them! I go out of my way to buy Gleason Ranch products.

  11. To answer your question…. last fall, there was a huge uprising at the SRFM, revolving around the employment of the current market manager (who is also the manager of the Sebastopol Market), who was demanding a 30% pay raise although she was already (as I understand) the highest paid market manager in northern CA. The board of directors offered her 15%, she refused, they did not renew her contract. There was a coup d’etat which resulted in the instant resignation of the entire BOD (except one). I was asked by several vendors to run for the new board, which I did. I was elected and appointed as Chairman of the Bylaw’s Committee, as it was very clear to all that there were significant issues with the out-dated policies and declarations. Coming from a long family history of military service and labor union membership, I believe in service, due diligence, right, wrong, fair, and speaking my honest opinion. As soon as I began to engage, I was suddenly informed that the election was misinterpreted and I was not in fact elected. However, I was asked by the president to remain on the board as an alternate member and to continue heading up the Bylaws Committee. As soon as I voiced a difference of opinion from the market manager, and started asking questions like, “Where’s a membership list? How is membership granted? How are market bucks accounted for? Where is the 2nd party transfer of cash funds (i.e. $2,000 in weekly stall fees) and process of accountability?”… as soon as I voiced my opinions like, “I think it’s inappropriate for an employee who is charged with enforcing policy to sit on a policy review committee. I think it’s imprudent to grant a 30% pay raise until such time as a financial audit is complete. I believe membership contact information should be made available to members. I think there needs to be a conflict of interest clause if an employee manages more than one market, in order to prevent retaliatory actions…”- my sister and I were suddenly informed that our membership in SEBASTOPOL was under review, along with 2 other vendors, both of whom had served on the Santa Rosa BOD which had previously refused her 30% pay raise and declined to renew her contract. We asked why we were under review and were told it was due to “behavior and market citizenship”- the reason given to the Sebastopol BOD was “there’s too much drama in Santa Rosa.” Although the market manager was told that that was not a reason to rescind a vendor’s selling privilege and we were to be allowed to remain in the market, we received a letter offering condolences for the recent death of our mother, confirmation that our privilege to sell was revoked, and well wishes. A few weeks later we received a letter to the same effect from the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. Although I was still a member of the BOD in Santa Rosa, when we requested permission to copy minutes of prior meetings, was handed the secretary’s book from the secretary for the purpose of making copies during a board meeting (in accordance with state law)…we received a letter stating that we had “stolen corporate property” and our membership was immediately revoked. The newly elected president immediately resigned, friends were appointed to fill empty seats, and the manager signed her new employment contract, complete with a 30% pay raise and benefits.

    You tell me why we lost our space at our local farmer’s markets?! πŸ˜‰

    You can still find us in Healdsburg….a wonderful market!!!

    1. Hi Nancy, we first met at the Medlock-Ames dinner celebrating your appearance in Food & Wine. I have really missed being able to buy your quality meats in Santa Rosa, so I was VERY glad that I was able to track you down in Healdsburg last month (had to hunt around online for clues, but found you)! It was so worth the 1.5 hour drive up and back to get to chat with you and buy your lamb and pork. So sorry you had to endure the market politics, but hang in there! We’ll see you again soon!

  12. To answer your question…. last fall, there was a huge uprising at the SRFM, revolving around the employment of the current market manager (who is also the manager of the Sebastopol Market), who was demanding a 30% pay raise although she was already (as I understand) the highest paid market manager in northern CA. The board of directors offered her 15%, she refused, they did not renew her contract. There was a coup d’etat which resulted in the instant resignation of the entire BOD (except one). I was asked by several vendors to run for the new board, which I did. I was elected and appointed as Chairman of the Bylaw’s Committee, as it was very clear to all that there were significant issues with the out-dated policies and declarations. Coming from a long family history of military service and labor union membership, I believe in service, due diligence, right, wrong, fair, and speaking my honest opinion. As soon as I began to engage, I was suddenly informed that the election was misinterpreted and I was not in fact elected. However, I was asked by the president to remain on the board as an alternate member and to continue heading up the Bylaws Committee. As soon as I voiced a difference of opinion from the market manager, and started asking questions like, “Where’s a membership list? How is membership granted? How are market bucks accounted for? Where is the 2nd party transfer of cash funds (i.e. $2,000 in weekly stall fees) and process of accountability?”… as soon as I voiced my opinions like, “I think it’s inappropriate for an employee who is charged with enforcing policy to sit on a policy review committee. I think it’s imprudent to grant a 30% pay raise until such time as a financial audit is complete. I believe membership contact information should be made available to members. I think there needs to be a conflict of interest clause if an employee manages more than one market, in order to prevent retaliatory actions…”- my sister and I were suddenly informed that our membership in SEBASTOPOL was under review, along with 2 other vendors, both of whom had served on the Santa Rosa BOD which had previously refused her 30% pay raise and declined to renew her contract. We asked why we were under review and were told it was due to “behavior and market citizenship”- the reason given to the Sebastopol BOD was “there’s too much drama in Santa Rosa.” Although the market manager was told that that was not a reason to rescind a vendor’s selling privilege and we were to be allowed to remain in the market, we received a letter offering condolences for the recent death of our mother, confirmation that our privilege to sell was revoked, and well wishes. A few weeks later we received a letter to the same effect from the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. Although I was still a member of the BOD in Santa Rosa, when we requested permission to copy minutes of prior meetings, was handed the secretary’s book from the secretary for the purpose of making copies during a board meeting (in accordance with state law)…we received a letter stating that we had “stolen corporate property” and our membership was immediately revoked. The newly elected president immediately resigned, friends were appointed to fill empty seats, and the manager signed her new employment contract, complete with a 30% pay raise and benefits.

    You tell me why we lost our space at our local farmer’s markets?! πŸ˜‰

    You can still find us in Healdsburg….a wonderful market!!!

    1. Hi Nancy, we first met at the Medlock-Ames dinner celebrating your appearance in Food & Wine. I have really missed being able to buy your quality meats in Santa Rosa, so I was VERY glad that I was able to track you down in Healdsburg last month (had to hunt around online for clues, but found you)! It was so worth the 1.5 hour drive up and back to get to chat with you and buy your lamb and pork. So sorry you had to endure the market politics, but hang in there! We’ll see you again soon!

  13. To answer your question…. last fall, there was a huge uprising at the SRFM, revolving around the employment of the current market manager (who is also the manager of the Sebastopol Market), who was demanding a 30% pay raise although she was already (as I understand) the highest paid market manager in northern CA. The board of directors offered her 15%, she refused, they did not renew her contract. There was a coup d’etat which resulted in the instant resignation of the entire BOD (except one). I was asked by several vendors to run for the new board, which I did. I was elected and appointed as Chairman of the Bylaw’s Committee, as it was very clear to all that there were significant issues with the out-dated policies and declarations. Coming from a long family history of military service and labor union membership, I believe in service, due diligence, right, wrong, fair, and speaking my honest opinion. As soon as I began to engage, I was suddenly informed that the election was misinterpreted and I was not in fact elected. However, I was asked by the president to remain on the board as an alternate member and to continue heading up the Bylaws Committee. As soon as I voiced a difference of opinion from the market manager, and started asking questions like, “Where’s a membership list? How is membership granted? How are market bucks accounted for? Where is the 2nd party transfer of cash funds (i.e. $2,000 in weekly stall fees) and process of accountability?”… as soon as I voiced my opinions like, “I think it’s inappropriate for an employee who is charged with enforcing policy to sit on a policy review committee. I think it’s imprudent to grant a 30% pay raise until such time as a financial audit is complete. I believe membership contact information should be made available to members. I think there needs to be a conflict of interest clause if an employee manages more than one market, in order to prevent retaliatory actions…”- my sister and I were suddenly informed that our membership in SEBASTOPOL was under review, along with 2 other vendors, both of whom had served on the Santa Rosa BOD which had previously refused her 30% pay raise and declined to renew her contract. We asked why we were under review and were told it was due to “behavior and market citizenship”- the reason given to the Sebastopol BOD was “there’s too much drama in Santa Rosa.” Although the market manager was told that that was not a reason to rescind a vendor’s selling privilege and we were to be allowed to remain in the market, we received a letter offering condolences for the recent death of our mother, confirmation that our privilege to sell was revoked, and well wishes. A few weeks later we received a letter to the same effect from the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. Although I was still a member of the BOD in Santa Rosa, when we requested permission to copy minutes of prior meetings, was handed the secretary’s book from the secretary for the purpose of making copies during a board meeting (in accordance with state law)…we received a letter stating that we had “stolen corporate property” and our membership was immediately revoked. The newly elected president immediately resigned, friends were appointed to fill empty seats, and the manager signed her new employment contract, complete with a 30% pay raise and benefits.

    You tell me why we lost our space at our local farmer’s markets?! πŸ˜‰

    You can still find us in Healdsburg….a wonderful market!!!

  14. Thank you Heather for writing about a true farmer and her struggles. Her Sausages are delicious too!
    We will continue to support Nancy & Gleason Ranch. Bi Rite Market in SF has also stepped up to help them!
    Thanks,
    Sheana

  15. Thank you Heather for writing about a true farmer and her struggles. Her Sausages are delicious too!
    We will continue to support Nancy & Gleason Ranch. Bi Rite Market in SF has also stepped up to help them!
    Thanks,
    Sheana

    1. I was going to ask the same thing- why’d they lose their spot? I’ve purchased bacon from them before at the farmer’s market and it is WONDERFUL! Cooked it up with some rainbow chard- had it with some local eggs…MMMMM!!!!

    1. I was going to ask the same thing- why’d they lose their spot? I’ve purchased bacon from them before at the farmer’s market and it is WONDERFUL! Cooked it up with some rainbow chard- had it with some local eggs…MMMMM!!!!

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