Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

The farmer’s market and you

Recently a posting was sent out on the Front Porch Forum regarding the city and more specifically the Parks and Recreation Department’s fiscal bullying tactics relative to the Burlington Farmers Market and proposed 450 percent increase in rent for the former this coming summer.

Chris Wagner the farmers market manager, said, there are 58 summer residents of the market, which means we would essentially be raising their rent, assuming equal contributions, from $62 a summer to $286.90, which while not an end of the world increase is by no means trivial. This is akin to raising taxes on Church Street so that only large entities like Old Navy, Urban Outfitters and Starbucks can afford to display their products.

I know, I know, Ron Redmond and the City Council have already done that so why not rake these farmers and craftspeople over the same type of coals? The answer is that the farmers market represents community, social equity and local values, while the borderline multinational purveyors of goods on Church Street do not, and in many instances are overtly and more likely covertly set on destroying the fabric of the communities they invade.

I would argue that Church Street in most respects no longer reflects the community or state upon which it derives its “charm,” while the farmers market is all things Burlington and all things Vermont. It is a place locals and tourists can intermingle, but more importantly it is a place where our friends and neighbors in the agricultural and crafts sector are the true stars getting to strut their stuff and making a decent, but by no means extravagant, living. The fact that the City Council, Parks and Recreation Department and mayor would jeopardize the aspirations of this venture is quite disturbing not simply because it betrays their message of community but because it smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order.

Oh yeah, and by the way, who decided that the city has the right to charge for this space?

That we do everything we can in this city to accommodate the Church Street Marketplace as it moves steadily away from its community obligation, while something that is entirely communal and has aspirations of becoming even more so is being threatened strikes me as subterfuge and not becoming of those in City Hall or those at Parks and Recreation. I would note that such a raise in rent seems worthy of a citywide referendum, public hearing or town hall style meeting, or all of the above.

Category: Burlington

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