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Market meets to discuss its future

Kent Porter/PD

With the future of the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market in flux, about 200 market vendors and customers packed into the Veterans Memorial Hall on Saturday to discuss its fate with the new board of directors.

Reading from a three-page prepared statement, board secretary Lesley Brabyn of Salmon Creek Ranch said the board, installed Jan. 28, had been blindsided by the county’s recent decision not to renew the market’s longtime lease.

Throughout the morning, news that the market had lost its lease buzzed from stall to stall, with customers mostly confused and vendors trying to piece together what information they could.

At stake is the continuation of the county’s popular year-round farm market. Each week in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Hall, nearly 100 vendors offer meat, cheese, produce, baked goods and crafts on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

For the time being, that will stay the same. But come July, a new market operator is slated to take over.

County officials said Friday that a new entity, Redwood Empire Farmers Markets, had signed a new, more expensive lease and would run the market starting July 4.

In the sometimes contentious hourlong meeting Saturday, board representatives said they weren’t given time to let members vote on a proposed 167 percent fee hike. They said the county’s Regional Parks Department had rushed into leasing the space to a new operator without “due process.”

Brabyn also said that a lawsuit filed against the market and individual board members by Gleason Ranch owners had been a major distraction to pursuing the lease. “Rent could have probably been resolved if resources not been distracted by this lawsuit,” she said.

In questions from the audience, concerns included who the new market managers would be, whether the market could stay in its current location and, if not, where it might move to.

Brabyn said that the board had begun looking for possible new locations in Railroad Square or possibly at the Fairgrounds near the jockey club, but ultimately hoped the county would rescind its decision not to renew their lease.

The board made only brief reference to the new operators, Redwood Empire Farmers Markets. The fledgling group, made up primarily of former and current market vendors, was in attendance.

Spokesman Rob Cary said all current vendors would be invited to apply for the new market. During the meeting, several individuals expressed hope that the two markets could work together, but Braybn said “quite a few vendors have no plans to operate under new management.”

For their part, vendors expressed concern about negative publicity and how it might affect the market’s popularity.

“I’m worried about how customers are going to see the conflict. If you upset the customers and they have a bad taste, they won’t come. And then no one here will be successful,” said Shannon Hoffmann of Crumb Hither, who has been at the market for three years.

Market customer Irema Sivcevic said she wants to see continuity. “I see a thriving market. I like how it is running, and I like the uniqueness of the market. That is what I want to keep. For the politics, I don’t care,” she said.

Longtime market participants noted that management upheaval at the market isn’t new.

“This market has forever been in discord. This is not the first or the last time,” said Ross BeVier, a longtime vendor. “As long as there is a democratic process, there is going to be dissent.”

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Comments

60 thoughts on “Market meets to discuss its future

  1. Did anyone go to the Board of Supervisors meeting… The secretary of the market couldn’t even maintain her composure and started yelling at the board. I thought she was going to get arrested.. If that is the way they do business in public meeting, I wonder what kind of chaos happens behind closed doors. Calling a public official a liar while being video webcast will most likely not win you any friends and put a damper on your social life… You want these ‘professionals’ leading the largest market in Sonoma county?

    1. I’m just a customer at the market but today while shopping there I asked the farmer who is the secretary at the market what happened at the supervisor’s meeting, and she said she didn’t attend.
      So have to pretty much ignore everything else you wrote as being biased and inaccurate.

      The PD had no coverage of this topic at the meeting and if someone was close to being arrested, sort of doubt that wouldn’t have been reported.
      Maybe you’re confused with the people getting upset about the proposal to fluoridate the drinking water. That was the only news from the meeting reported in the PD.

      As for the market being run professionally, puh-leaze. Have you been there? It’s a thriving success. Breaks my heart that all that is going to be torn asunder.

      1. Uh…sorry Kathy, Lloyd is completely right. I was there and it was appalling! SROCFM board secretary, Lesley Brabyn, barreled right through her three minutes, was repeatedly told her time was up, then during the middle of a general statement made by Supervisor Zane, stood up and started yelling, “You’re lying! You’re lying!…” alongside her daughter. The gavel was pounding as the bailiff rose to approach her before she finally contained herself and left the room. Then just outside the doors the appalling behavior continued as she screamed in Caryl Harts face, “Are you so stupid you don’t know how non-profits work?” You can’t have a judgment on what you don’t witness, Kathy. For those of us who have been dealing with this organization and its representatives, it was appalling, but by no means shocking. Welcome to our world, Lloyd.

        1. BTW Kathy….check the BOS minutes…Item #33, public speaking, Lesley Brabyn was the 5th speaker. Simple matter of public record. Why the secretary would lie to you about her presence at the meeting, I don’t know. Why this organization has lied about so much… well, time will tell.

    2. It’s refreshing to hear someone else understand how absurd Leslie’s behavior was! Keep in mind, she was the Board’s chosen representative – which speaks to their judgement. I’m amazed she was denying having been there, despite the camera & dozens of witnesses. Some people just don’t let the facts get in their way.

  2. Did anyone go to the Board of Supervisors meeting… The secretary of the market couldn’t even maintain her composure and started yelling at the board. I thought she was going to get arrested.. If that is the way they do business in public meeting, I wonder what kind of chaos happens behind closed doors. Calling a public official a liar while being video webcast will most likely not win you any friends and put a damper on your social life… You want these ‘professionals’ leading the largest market in Sonoma county?

    1. I’m just a customer at the market but today while shopping there I asked the farmer who is the secretary at the market what happened at the supervisor’s meeting, and she said she didn’t attend.
      So have to pretty much ignore everything else you wrote as being biased and inaccurate.

      The PD had no coverage of this topic at the meeting and if someone was close to being arrested, sort of doubt that wouldn’t have been reported.
      Maybe you’re confused with the people getting upset about the proposal to fluoridate the drinking water. That was the only news from the meeting reported in the PD.

      As for the market being run professionally, puh-leaze. Have you been there? It’s a thriving success. Breaks my heart that all that is going to be torn asunder.

      1. Uh…sorry Kathy, Lloyd is completely right. I was there and it was appalling! SROCFM board secretary, Lesley Brabyn, barreled right through her three minutes, was repeatedly told her time was up, then during the middle of a general statement made by Supervisor Zane, stood up and started yelling, “You’re lying! You’re lying!…” alongside her daughter. The gavel was pounding as the bailiff rose to approach her before she finally contained herself and left the room. Then just outside the doors the appalling behavior continued as she screamed in Caryl Harts face, “Are you so stupid you don’t know how non-profits work?” You can’t have a judgment on what you don’t witness, Kathy. For those of us who have been dealing with this organization and its representatives, it was appalling, but by no means shocking. Welcome to our world, Lloyd.

        1. BTW Kathy….check the BOS minutes…Item #33, public speaking, Lesley Brabyn was the 5th speaker. Simple matter of public record. Why the secretary would lie to you about her presence at the meeting, I don’t know. Why this organization has lied about so much… well, time will tell.

    2. It’s refreshing to hear someone else understand how absurd Leslie’s behavior was! Keep in mind, she was the Board’s chosen representative – which speaks to their judgement. I’m amazed she was denying having been there, despite the camera & dozens of witnesses. Some people just don’t let the facts get in their way.

  3. \so Dan Smith of the french garden is the money behind the new market
    if you think there is turmoil now

    anyone care to bet how many market managers there will be in the first six months

    1. Wow, I guess this Dan Smith guy is really evil!

      He should stick to saving Palm Drive, providing food for the Ceres Project and Food for Thought, funding the Pediatric Dental Iinitiative, Roseland University Prep, The Sebastopol Community Center, Dan Ellsberg’s Truthtelling Project, Main Street Theater, the local schools, Restorative Justice, Telemedicine for the third world, etc. and stay out of farming!

      Who the hell does he think he is anyway?

      Dan Smith
      (Actually, I’m not sure who I am. It’s a problem I have pondered for years! It occurs to me that I’m just like you, an imperfect being trying to do some good in the world before I go.)

  4. so Dan Smith of the french garden is the money behind the new market
    if you think there is turmoil now

    anyone care to bet how many market managers there will be in the first six months

    1. Wow, I guess this Dan Smith guy is really evil!

      He should stick to saving Palm Drive, providing food for the Ceres Project and Food for Thought, funding the Pediatric Dental Iinitiative, Roseland University Prep, The Sebastopol Community Center, Dan Ellsberg’s Truthtelling Project, Main Street Theater, the local schools, Restorative Justice, Telemedicine for the third world, etc. and stay out of farming!

      Who the hell does he think he is anyway?

      Dan Smith
      (Actually, I’m not sure who I am. It’s a problem I have pondered for years! It occurs to me that I’m just like you, an imperfect being trying to do some good in the world before I go.)

  5. Heather what happened to my comment? It never got posted here a couple of nights ago?

    Anyways, I’m reading some gossip on Paula Downing and her “controlling ways” on the Watch SC thing. Can someone please inform us as to what Paula did to upset some vendors? I am curious to know the facts please.

  6. Of course Redwood Empire Farmers Market is willing to let the current vendors stay and would like a smooth transition. However, at this point, I’m reluctant to submit an application and participate in “the new market.” because:

    1: The way it happened felt like the new group gathered together to vengefully oust the current group– not work together with the current group. Those two groups can barely look at each other. If the new market was founded on positive motives, wanting to add something to the community I would be inclined to be more sympathetic.
    2: I am tired of drama. I am not interested in fighting anymore.
    3: When will they (new group) unceremoniously kick me out? Everyone knows who everyone supported during the last market drama.

    The vendors, of which I am one, voted for the current board of directors. I feel like we are a group, an entity, and the entire Santa Rosa Certified Farmers Market does not boil down to one person, our manager.
    The new group seems narrowly focused on getting revenge on our manager. This is what their actions and comments have pointed to from my perspective.
    If someone out there has more light to shed on the subject of the motives of the new group, please share.

    1. What actions and comments? I can’t find anyone from their organization who has posted anything, except what is on their FB page.. Direct me to the comments please.

  7. Heather what happened to my comment? It never got posted here a couple of nights ago?

    Anyways, I’m reading some gossip on Paula Downing and her “controlling ways” on the Watch SC thing. Can someone please inform us as to what Paula did to upset some vendors? I am curious to know the facts please.

  8. Of course Redwood Empire Farmers Market is willing to let the current vendors stay and would like a smooth transition. However, at this point, I’m reluctant to submit an application and participate in “the new market.” because:

    1: The way it happened felt like the new group gathered together to vengefully oust the current group– not work together with the current group. Those two groups can barely look at each other. If the new market was founded on positive motives, wanting to add something to the community I would be inclined to be more sympathetic.
    2: I am tired of drama. I am not interested in fighting anymore.
    3: When will they (new group) unceremoniously kick me out? Everyone knows who everyone supported during the last market drama.

    The vendors, of which I am one, voted for the current board of directors. I feel like we are a group, an entity, and the entire Santa Rosa Certified Farmers Market does not boil down to one person, our manager.
    The new group seems narrowly focused on getting revenge on our manager. This is what their actions and comments have pointed to from my perspective.
    If someone out there has more light to shed on the subject of the motives of the new group, please share.

    1. What actions and comments? I can’t find anyone from their organization who has posted anything, except what is on their FB page.. Direct me to the comments please.

    1. Heather,

      Sorry that no one picked up on your offer.
      This is certainly what is needed.
      Everyone needs to calm down.

      The current board wants to challenge the county’s decision, which is certainly their right.
      After that is done, no matter what the outcome, we should all take a deep breath and figure out how to move forward with a plan that will enhance the farmers markets, not destroy them. In my view, this not about good guys and bad guys, but competent management and due process for vendors.

      Dan Smith

  9. I couldn’t find the story online in Sunday’s PD it was online this morning but gone now

    must have been taken down to make the corrections to point out the bad deal the county made

    1. I think you are getting confused. It was at the Annual Vendor meeting of the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market in January that were considering dropping or moving the Wednesday market so they could cut the rent in half. After much discussion, they didn’t wantto split the markets. Then everyone got riled up and agreed with the board that a public campaign was needed to force the county’s hand. It was also stated that the county could NEVER rent that space on an annual basis. We obviously were wrong.

      There was no mention by the spokesperson of not continuing the Wed market yesterday.

      1. I guess the campaign to force the county’s hand worked. They opted to go with a organization that is willing to pay it’s fair share, not beg for discounts. This puts more money in the parks dept. for upkeep and improvements. The only ones who should get a discount on the rent is the veterans, after all it was built for their use. Everyone else should pull their own weight. If someone can come in, pay the new rent, not increase costs to the vendors, and continue the market as is, it makes me wonder what the old management/board is doing with it’s money and time?

        1. They must not be that good… I found them on FB in less than 2 mins. Try looking under the pages tag. FB puts businesses, organizations, and charities there to help people find them.

  10. I’ve spoken with the “new management” and it is my understanding that the post regarding eliminating the Wednesday market is false. In fact the first day of the new market will be on a Wednesday. It’s a small county and there is a lot of gossip flying to and fro. Perhaps we should let the dust settle and see what Redwood Empire Farmers Market presents before we get our knickers in a bunch and jump to conclusions??
    I suggest eating a nice cookie made with local ingredients and love and just taking a deep breath.

  11. the new management is planning only one market a week
    so the seniors who got a market buck at the Wed market and others
    who wanted to shop midweek will be out of luck
    and the parks dept is only getting half the rent they would have if they had continued to rent to the market that is there now

    good job for a county that needs money losers
    and not pointed out in any article losers

    1. Heather,

      Sorry that no one picked up on your offer.
      This is certainly what is needed.
      Everyone needs to calm down.

      The current board wants to challenge the county’s decision, which is certainly their right.
      After that is done, no matter what the outcome, we should all take a deep breath and figure out how to move forward with a plan that will enhance the farmers markets, not destroy them. In my view, this not about good guys and bad guys, but competent management and due process for vendors.

      Dan Smith

  12. I couldn’t find the story online in Sunday’s PD it was online this morning but gone now

    must have been taken down to make the corrections to point out the bad deal the county made

    1. I think you are getting confused. It was at the Annual Vendor meeting of the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market in January that were considering dropping or moving the Wednesday market so they could cut the rent in half. After much discussion, they didn’t wantto split the markets. Then everyone got riled up and agreed with the board that a public campaign was needed to force the county’s hand. It was also stated that the county could NEVER rent that space on an annual basis. We obviously were wrong.

      There was no mention by the spokesperson of not continuing the Wed market yesterday.

      1. I guess the campaign to force the county’s hand worked. They opted to go with a organization that is willing to pay it’s fair share, not beg for discounts. This puts more money in the parks dept. for upkeep and improvements. The only ones who should get a discount on the rent is the veterans, after all it was built for their use. Everyone else should pull their own weight. If someone can come in, pay the new rent, not increase costs to the vendors, and continue the market as is, it makes me wonder what the old management/board is doing with it’s money and time?

        1. They must not be that good… I found them on FB in less than 2 mins. Try looking under the pages tag. FB puts businesses, organizations, and charities there to help people find them.

  13. I’ve spoken with the “new management” and it is my understanding that the post regarding eliminating the Wednesday market is false. In fact the first day of the new market will be on a Wednesday. It’s a small county and there is a lot of gossip flying to and fro. Perhaps we should let the dust settle and see what Redwood Empire Farmers Market presents before we get our knickers in a bunch and jump to conclusions??
    I suggest eating a nice cookie made with local ingredients and love and just taking a deep breath.

  14. the new management is planning only one market a week
    so the seniors who got a market buck at the Wed market and others
    who wanted to shop midweek will be out of luck
    and the parks dept is only getting half the rent they would have if they had continued to rent to the market that is there now

    good job for a county that needs money losers
    and not pointed out in any article losers

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