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Farmers' Market Desserts
By Jennie Schacht

Click here for
other side
of the story
here for
update on
market lawsuit

'We’re not going
to sit back and
watch a small
group of ambitious
and selfish people
ruin what so many
of us have created.'

An Open Letter to Members
From John Barbagelata, Marin County
Farmers Market Board President
March 23, 1997

Dear Member of the Marin County Farmers Market Association:

This letter is, in part, to respond to recent allegations and accusations by some members of the staff. The board has tried to address staff concerns for eight weeks, until it became apparent that their motivation was a takeover of the markets by involving both a political organizer and an attorney.

Over the past two months, your markets have been attacked by these people trying to either take them over, ruin them or both. Their aim has been to try to use the honest concerns of a few to destroy the reputation of the Marin County Farmers Market Association and its executive director to get you to help them gain control of the markets.

You’ve been asked (and sometimes pressured) to sign a petition which paints a false picture, and which seeks to use your concern for your markets for the selfish reasons of a few.

Annual meeting
You’ve been told that the board refuses to hold an annual membership meeting. This is false. As our board minutes show, we have been preparing for our annual meeting all winter. There will be an annual membership meeting on Monday, April 14. You will be sent a notice within the next two weeks as to time and place. Your participation is important to the board….

Financial statements
The association is in stable financial condition. A summary of our current finance statement will be sent with the annual meeting agenda. Upon request we will send you a detailed financial statement.

The petitions asking for an audit were circulated after the board had already approved the expenses for an audit; three accounting firms had been contacted for bids. The organization has completed five annual audits in the past.

False and misleading statements were given to the press; quotes by some of the staff have been harmful to the association and its image.

The people who are trying to take over your markets have, during the past two months, used market property for their own purposes, including taking documents from office files; violated confidentiality by distributing the draft of a proposed contract in public to try to sabotage negotiations; refused to work and abandoned the office when the board held meetings; refused to talk with board representatives; and aided or participated in an ongoing attempt to steal existing markets for other MCFMA employee’s personal gain. Does that sound like the behavior of honorable people who really care about our markets?

Like any ambitious, visionary enterprise, we’ve had our ups and downs. But spreading false rumors, scaring farmers and other producers with exaggerated stories, and secretly trying to lose MCFMA some of its markets is behavior that can’t be justified.

The Marin County Farmers Market is one of the best in the world. During the 15 years in which this organization, your organization, has grown and been admired, you and your executive director have set the standard for community farmers markets all across America.

We’re proud of our accomplishments, and we’re not going to sit back and watch a small group of ambitious and selfish people ruin what so many of us have created.

We ask that you keep an open mind. Come to the annual membership meeting on April 14, and join us in making the MCFMA even better than it already is. We look forward to seeing you there.

Thanks for hearing both sides of the story.

John Barbagelata, President

MCFMA Board of Directors

Copyright 1997 In Season