The Farmers’ Market Board of directors is a diverse collection of farmers elected by our membership. We have met with every Santa Barbara city councilmember equally and requested support through the difficult process of relocating the Saturday Market to make way for a new police station. In response, City Council agreed to form a committee to facilitate the city’s pledged support. On October 15, since more than three council members were interested in serving on the committee, the council took a vote to select the three who would serve.
The Santa Barbara Certified Farmers’ Market Association (SBCFMA) maintains its position that there should be no conflict between public safety and food security. We expect city governance to uphold this same set of values. Governing officials are required to swear an oath of office, simply to uphold the Constitution of the United States. However, public service has an implicit mandate to protect the “health, safety and well-being” of the community.
The article in last week’s paper, “Race Woes in Farmers’ Market Move?” quotes Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, who referred to farmers as “outside business owners” and questioned “who the market truly serves.” Farms that sell at the Saturday Market are local, family-owned businesses maintaining an ancient tradition of bringing produce from outlying areas to create a marketplace for urban people to access fresh food. The use of public space is a small subsidy that the city provides and is the minimum requirement for having such an event. More than 7,000 signatures were gathered from the community being served, requesting that the Saturday Market remain in its current location. This is a powerful mandate indicating that there is broad support for the market from the residents of Santa Barbara.
It is rare to find a collective of small business owners as diverse as the SBCFMA, or to identify another place in Santa Barbara where people of all ethnic backgrounds, income levels, and sexual orientations feel more comfortable, safe, accepted, and nourished.