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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 27 - 30


Farmers market a family affair

EDITOR: This is directed to the Sonoma City Council.

I have never written a letter to my City Council in the almost nine years I have lived in Sonoma, but your recent changes to the Tuesday Night Farmers Market make me sad to see what Sonoma is becoming.

In 2008, my then-boyfriend and I moved to Sonoma from Southern California. We immediately started attending the Tuesday Night Farmers Market hoping to meet young couples like ourselves and enjoyed running into people we were beginning to meet in our town. We stayed late, bought our fruit/veggies for the week, and enjoyed dinner as a couple from the vendors.

Eventually we made good friends, and we always made it a point to meet on Tuesdays at the market. By then, my boyfriend was now my fiancée. We still stayed late, bought our fruits/veggies for the week, enjoyed the different music and mused how much we loved our town.

We married in 2010, and welcomed our daughter in 2012. She enjoyed her first farmers market at the age of 5 months. We still bought our fruits/veggies, enjoyed some local food, but had a bedtime routine to get to now, so no longer stayed late. In 2013, our son came along.

In these years we have grown from a young couple to a family who consistently goes to the farmers market here in town. Why? Because it is the only free, local, community event we can attend. I am a teacher and my husband works for a nonprofit. We’re lucky we bought our house on the west side of town in 2011 and can even afford to make ends meet to live here. We have no parks/recreation department to offer any community oriented events. There are non-wine drinking people who live in this town, and a whole bunch of children who love the market and look forward to seeing friends, dancing, and eating fruit from the farmers while munching on dinner from the food trucks.

A few food vendors every other Tuesday is going to be mayhem to even try and get food. Even with all the food vendors this past year, there were long lines.

I do not understand the speed and haste in which you are changing the market. Keep it as it is next year and actually reach out and talk to your constituents! Where were all the moms on this ad hoc committee who would tell you, thank goodness for this one event we have each week where you don’t have to dish out hundreds of dollars just to participate in a hometown event.

When my daughter heard the music was being moved to the amphitheater, she cried out, but where will I dance? I love to dance!

Please, please, please, slow down this manic speed of change and think about your community first. We support the farmers, but find a better balance in order to not ruin a good thing.

Amy Seyms

Sonoma

Give the people the market they want

EDITOR: I attended the City Council meeting on Jan. 23 about making changes to how the Tuesday Night Farmers Market is structured for 2017 and going forward. I came in with the misconception that the major change would be that two Tuesdays per month there would be no food vendors and no music and two Tuesday’s per month there would be. It turns out that there will be music every Tuesday, but with a trial of having it in the amphitheater on two Tuesdays per month for a couple of months to see how that goes. And there would be prepared food vendors every Tuesday, but only three food trucks would be allowed and this would be only on two Tuesdays per month. In addition the ratio of prepared food vendors to farmers selling produce would decrease considerably. In other words, many fewer prepared food vendors every Tuesday.

The other issue is how policy is set for 2018 and going forward. The decisions I outlined above seem to have mostly been made by councilmembers Harrington and Edwards as a subcommittee with support from Mayor Hundley. I saw no evidence that public or community input was considered. Councilmember Cook spoke up and disagreed with most of the changes. He wants all decisions going forward to be in open meetings, announced ahead of time so the public is informed and can participate.

Sadly very few people showed up for this council meeting. I believe many local residents do not want to see the Tuesday Night Farmers Market changed substantially. Only about six of us were there to speak up.

I also picked up on a subtext that I feel is underlying these changes to how the farmers market is structured. From Councilmember Edwards I keep hearing about preserving the treasure that is the Plaza and that the purpose of the market is to only support local farmers and therefore the need for a more “pure” farmers market. From Councilmember Harrington there seems to be a need to charge the farmers market operators much more money. As other groups have to pay, why not them?

And I picked up that is not just about wear-and-tear on the Plaza and covering the cost. Councilmembers Cook and Agrimonti seem to believe this is a community oriented event that the City is providing for our local population. I have to say I agree with them and that they are thinking about the community rather than what they personally believe the farmers market is, or should be.

Josette Brose-Eichar

Boyes Hot Springs