Priced out of new farmers market
I am a Sonoma Valley resident with a small farm property on the southeast side of the Valley. For the past two seasons, I have enjoyed participating in my community's Tuesday night farmers market as a small vendor, selling my tasty and colorful farm-fresh eggs. Through the market, I have been able to get to know many in the local farming community, and to represent our community when greeting tourists, locals and visitors from surrounding cities and counties. While it has never been a real profit-making venture for me - I am a family-sized operation and the small amount of money I made simply helped to feed and care for the chickens - being part of the market has been a matter of community involvement and pride. I made friends in my community and developed a loyal following of customers, so many, in fact, that I often sold out very early.
This year, however, I have literally been priced out of the Sonoma (Valley of the Moon) farmers market. With the change in management that has taken place came changes in schedule (a late, late start!) and fee structure. Not only was I required to pay a $35 non-refundable fee to apply to participate in the market (now with a shortened season), but what had been a 10 percent per-market-day pull owed to the market, has now become a flat $35 per market day fee (just reduced from the previously required $45). For a small vendor like me, that amounts to 40 to 50 percent of my gross receipts for one market. The new noard is also requiring that vendors carry individual general and product liability insurance for the events. That's another new, and not insignificant, expense.
I have been "approved" as a market vendor this season. Sadly, I will not be able to participate. To do so would actually cost me more than I could recoup by selling my product. I don't know how many others like me there are out there, but I strongly suspect I am not alone in my disappointment about the market this year.
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Eve Pier Kieli is the owner of Hope Ranch.