Farmers market trouble | Rock Candy

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Farmers market trouble

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 5:56 AM

Our friend Nao with GreenAR By The Day sends along the news that the West Little Rock Farmers Market at Pulaski Academy has been shut down. She linked to this posting on Citizens' Daily Lobby. An excerpt:

A city code enforcement officer stopped the farmers from setting up. He informed them that they were in violation of city zoning laws. They were unaware of this problem because they had been invited by PA to sell on PA’s private property.

It seems to me that the reasonable thing to do would have been to let the farmers sell the produce they had picked and hauled to town with the warning that they could not return next week without a variance from the city. But they were sent packing with between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of some of the best food in Arkansas with no where to go to sell it.

The full entry:

I just got this unbelievable message about the West Little Rock Farmers’ Market. I don’t know anything about this group of farmers, but I do know West Little Rock needs some sort of local market, because people often won’t travel from WLR downtown on Saturday mornings. (That’s their loss.)

If you stopped by the farmers market at PA today, then you know that there has been trouble. A city code enforcement officer stopped the farmers from setting up. He informed them that they were in violation of city zoning laws. They were unaware of this problem because they had been invited by PA to sell on PA’s private property.

It seems to me that the reasonable thing to do would have been to let the farmers sell the produce they had picked and hauled to town with the warning that they could not return next week without a variance from the city. But they were sent packing with between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of some of the best food in Arkansas with no where to go to sell it. Instead of being given a little grace, they were told that they would be given a $1000 fine if they sold anything. This broke my heart for these guys who have been sweating in this heat to grow good food.

I have called all the farmers involved to see what can be done to support them and to continue a West Little Rock Market. We may need to make some phone calls to the city code enforcement office or find them a new location with different zoning. I’ll let you know as soon as I know more.

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