Future of the Plymouth Farmers’ Market
The town of Plymouth has an opportunity to consolidate the tremendous boon handed to it in the last eight years by free-lance farmers’ market creator Barbara Anglin. But like most opportunities, there’s that tricky risk – can we find a path that is right for the future of our community without utterly destroying the generous gift that has been given to us?
Things haven’t gotten off to the best imaginable start, as became clear at Tuesday evening’s Select Board meeting. Town staff have apparently been dealing with squeaky wheels on an ad hoc basis – but is the only way to be “fair” to someone who wants to duplicate Barbara’s success to take away what she has done? To force her to, in effect, bid on the business she has created? Certainly, there are real solutions out there, but first the town needs to embrace the farmers’ market and Barbara’s de facto role in it. Then we can reach further back in the process to make deeper changes, and then issue requests for proposals based on mutual understanding of common good. What’s called for is creativity and leadership; so far the approach has been administrative half-measures and procedural reaction.
It is not too late for a do over. What would it take to start the whole conversation again – beginning by withdrawing the RPF – and actually try to determine what would be the best outcome for the community? Heck, the issue may prove to have been be a tempest in a teapot, since it just may be that most people want the same thing (for once) – a really cool place to buy honest local food and catch up with their neighbors. Barbara seems to know how to do that, so why not include her in the planning process? (And if she were willing to continue in her role of the last eight years despite this brouhaha, we’d be pretty stupid not to encourage her!) There’s even a non-profit that exists to help figure this sort of pickle out (The Federation of Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets), so why not ask for their input? Plenty of bright, constructive (if perplexed) folks made insightful comments at the Select Board meeting; maybe some of them would be willing to lend their expertise and common sense. Sure the process should be regularized for the future – but as a benefit, NOT as a penalty, to the giving, far-sighted person who created this game-changing success story to start with.
edible South Shore, Food Editor