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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Farmer's Market Fireworks

  There have been multiple letters to the editor of the News-Leader regarding the departure, growth, needs of the old Fernandina Farmer's Market that began in Central Park and moved downtown to the unit block of North 7th Street.  First and foremost, a Farmer's Market is a plus and a community enhancer.  It brings people together, out of their cars, homes and shells, and they interact.  That is a great gain for all of us.  Kudos to the City Commission and Mr. Gerrity for making the interim market happen last weekend!  I was unable to attend due to family obligations but am looking forward to this Saturday with anticipation.

  Second, the manner in which the market was moved to the Plantation was shady at best and smells like a heap of rotting fish truthfully.  Failure to communicate with the City about the permits for operation appears intentional whilst planning was going on to kowtow to the Omni hierarchy for someone's benefit other than the citizens of Fernandina who were responsible for the success of the market.  The fact that a press release pre-dated notice to the City that the market was gone as of the following Saturday - that's right, no advance notice to the governmental entity that helped it prosper - speaks volumes about the intent and interests of its leaders.  Letters to the Editor of the paper indicating anything to the contrary are merely revisionist history and probably authored by someone with close connection to its operators or at least unwilling to see the truth.

  Is a move necessary?  Possibly!  Anything that would enhance the future market will be good for all of us.  The waterfront?  I don't think so because of the possible conflicts with boats, the boat ramp, trailer parking and the like.  Near the waterfront?  Absolutely!

  As opposed as I usually am to committees I think the commission should appoint a select committee with a limited lifespan and specific duties regarding a new farmer's market operation within the city.  Representatives should include the historic district, the remainder of the city, downtown business members, a city official and probably either law enforcement or fire and rescue or both.  Recommendations should be returned by a date specific to Mr. Gerrity who could then present the options to the commission as a whole and guidelines could be set in place to more effectively operate a market that benefits the city as a whole and not just some self serving strong arm who does things at his or her whim.

  A committee such as that with a deadline of mid-January would allow for a fresh start - forgive the pun - next spring and allow us to flourish as we progress through the growing season for local, or near local, vegetables and fruits along with the other items that have become commonplace among the Farmer's Markets across the south.

  Fernandina is a beautiful community!  There are more pluses than minuses and if you eliminate the differences over political approaches to government it is the true gem of the southeast coast.  We aren't as big as Savannah or St. Augustine.  Not as touristy as Daytona or Myrtle Beach.  Prettier than all of them in our natural resources.  The benefits of various points of view can me melded into a great future for our little town.  Some of the ideas already being espoused are excellent and show a deference to the existing businesses with brick and mortar commitments and an intent to improve the offerings of a market to include other local artisans on occasion.  It does not need to become a flea market, as Commissioner Bunch opined, but it could include a periodic art element along with other contributions that lead to its vitality.

  Every cloud may not have a silver lining but this one sure appears to for all of us.  We got lemons so lets make lemonade!

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