Sounds like a professional sports team. Sometimes people say they want change, but when change comes they can't cope. Two managers were fired in a year and now a third. The problem is systemic, the manager becomes the scapegoat. How sad. We want change but if it's not the particular change we like then we get all huffed up.
Funny I had three friends call and tell me about the article....I did alot of homework prior to designing and opening Clayton Farmer's Market. The only reason it exsists is 5 years ago there was not a growers market in St. Louis and the farmer's were not able to make a living competeingwith brokers. I started cooking demos at a mixed market and shoppers did not know the difference between farmers and brokers.
The first couple of years of the market I had alot of pressure from people that I hired to assist me that farmrs did not need to be the direct sellers....I stayed intrenched...they moved on.Year 3-4 I had a few farmers that had personal agendas that adversely affected the market....wanting to open before the mojority fo produce was available....or the farmer that had a whole lot of money invested in fat free beef and could not sell enough to make a go of the market....or the meetings where some showed that sold at the market seldom///2-3 times a year adn yelled at me about the $25 application fee....It got to the point that I just told them I take the market personally...
So this week is the culmination of a consulting gig for me in which I setup and run a demo stage for a food show...the chefs on the stage are major proponents of local products. The farmers that came to farmer/chef/seedcatalog meeting got a real sense that this is intrinsic in everything I do...professionally , personally etc....
I really feel for the greenmarket. Sometimes it is so much easier to start with the rules you want, then change what has exisited for a long time. Farmers like chefs are strong personality types I love them both but each has a peculiar way of communicating.
At the seed catalog night there was a new farmer that had no clue as to the vegetables we were discussing (he raised pork and wants to switch to veg) he was shy and had a very hard time interacting with chefs ....that was the group I worked with 5 years ago...they have come sooo far. It was really important for me to see the side by side comparison in that room.
The farmers realize that I make decisions for the MARKET not the individuals....the entity is first the individuals get my support wholeheartedly. So the first week of Feb I's off to CAL to a North American Farmer Direct Marketing preconference....2 days in SF going to Ferry Plaza, Berkley and Concord markets...then they fly us down to Santa Monica to visit that market. it will be interesting.
I know the DC greenmarket people...they work hard and create and wonderful market base. Too bad one of the best is crushed.
She will resurface in time and create a super new set of markets for sustainable farmers that want to have a premium market and make a premium price for their labor...that's what you get with Panucks innovations.
Several of myu long term farmers want double stalls this year....I'm revising the contract today to address new changes....not huge but new. Thank goodness I don't have hoops to jump through...there are other markets for those that don't care for the rules to sell at...ornery sure but noone can question my motives or the results that have occurred in ST Louis.
For the past 5-8 years there has been a movement to develop farmers markets that are growers only...put in place rules that reflect that and try to build something that would derive the best return for the farmers....several took alot of convencing to join Clayton Farmers Market...the first few years there were almost no farmers that would commit for the season. Now they all want to sign up first to get the best spot. I can not tell you haw many meetings I have attended where I left wanting to walk away from the whole thing....then I realized the vocal naysayers were not the ones that came for the whole season nor were they the ones that participated in outside marketing nor did they return e-mails or phone calls.
I signed up and it did not cost....the payments are optional. Basically the story was about NYC Greenmarkets, alot of Cheftalk chefs toured me through Union Sq Market when I paid a visiit a couple of years ago.....the market hired a new Market master to update and improve the market....she moved fast and ticked off some of the venders that were shipping in fruit from Cal to make their jams, she had a super track record in DC and England revitalized makrets and set up new ones iwth what several of the more visable markets nationally are using for criteria....GROWERS ONLY, sell what you raise. Show at the market so that people know who is raising their food.
So she recieved grief at meetings and only lasted a year.
She went into an established market and tried to change it , got tons of resistance ...many old timers do not want ANYONE messing with their business...does not matter that it is for the benefit of them in the long run, they just resist interventions like the plague....being on the other side of an angry farmer is not a pleasant experience...though I have been told being on the other side of an upset chef is almost worse...