At the end of January when I last spoke with Leah Ferraro, manager of the farmer’s market at Celebration, she hadn’t heard from the city for a while.
She was waiting for a “stakeholder meeting” for vendors and organizers of neighborhood farmer’s markets that had been promised by the city to discuss regulations proposed to a City Council committee in the wake of the city’s putting the kibosh on Celebration last fall and generally making things hard for local markets. After pushing the meeting from late January, the city went mum, Ferraro said.
Well, they finally had a meeting. Not the promised stakeholder’s meeting – that’s scheduled for 2:30 Thursday at City Hall, per an e-mail from Jack Ireland in the assistant city manager’s office — but a preliminary one with about a dozen who have more of a stake than most: Ferraro, the Texas Honeybee Guild, and folks from White Rock Local Market, and others.
Ferraro listed two main sticking points with the city: fees and responsibility. The local market advocates are balking at the $250 annual fee and separate, smaller fees for vendors. And, Ferraro said, organizers don’t think they should be required to enforce food safety beyond ensuring vendors have the proper health certifications.
“They want to put all the responsibility on the organizers, and that’s fine,” Ferraro said. “I don’t mind taking responsibility if somebody’s got the certifications that they need, but who am I to say ‘This is clean enough.’ I’m not a government agent.”
Ferraro is cautiously optimistic the stakeholder meeting will help create a friendlier atmosphere for the local markets. But she’s not making any bets.
“I think we hammered a few things out. Basically it’s them asking for our opinion, but that’s just an opinion so we have to see where it goes from there.”