The latest Farmer’s Market flap

Hilda Swartz has finally gotten her way, forcing her nemesis, Sheana Davis, from the Friday Farmers Market. In a letter dated Feb. 7, Carson Hunter, the chairman of the Sonoma Valley Certified Farmers Market Committee, cut Davis loose, writing that she had violated Rule O of Section III Staff Rules and Regulations. While it seems that there are an awful lot of rules (all the way to the letter O – all the way back in Section III of how many sections exactly?) for something as seemingly innocuous as a once-a-week Farmers Market, Davis nonetheless was ousted, basically, for poor behavior.

The letter states that Davis publically complained about her space assignment in a conspicuous manner at the market to staff, management, and board members. She also apparently voiced her disgruntlement to other vendors and market customers and “further violated said Rules and Regulations…by threatening to disrupt the market and to do what you did to the Tuesday night market if you are not moved to the space that you want.”

I’m sorry but does this all sound a little childishly neener-neener to anyone else?

Those who know Davis know that yes, she can be an outspoken individual, especially when defending what she believes in. In this case, what she believes in is herself and her business and she felt that the placement her business was given at the market was unfair. So she complained. And she complained some more. And some more.

But it seems that, rather than work with Davis to rectify the situation ­ – perhaps in a closed-door meeting away from the market as might adhere to, say, Rule Z of Section XXV – she was simply and effectively given the boot by “unanimous vote” by the committee… “as provided in Section V sub section A.” Wow.

For those of you who may not remember or perhaps don’t care, let the record show that Swartz pulled out of the Tuesday night Farmers Market at the end of last season after the City Council TWICE opened the management of the market to other applicants. The reason? Complaints about Swartz’s poor management of the market.

As for Davis, she feels the ouster was related to a planned change in the market’s hours that would require her to keep her booth open until 1 p.m. rather than noon. Not arguing with the planned change but rather, having to check her staffer’s schedule she feels resulted in her subsequent removal from the market.

The logic, murky at best; unreasonable at the worst. Of course it’s all between Swartz and Davis so no one may ever know exactly what happened.

Regardless, I’m sure this editorial will draw flak from both Swartz supporters and Davis detractors. But really, that’s not what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to point out the beauty of standing up for one’s self. And when that concept starts to come with penalties as severe as this, we should all be a little afraid of the society we’ve become.


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