SLO Farmers Market turns to city council for help

February 2, 2010

Supporters of the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market Association are expected to turn out at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. [SLO Farmers Market Association]

At issue is the recent decision by the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association to terminate its 27-year relationship with the organization and to assume control of the market portion of the popular Thursday night event.

Peter Jankay, Farmers Market Association director, said on Monday that he has yet to receive a formal notice of termination from the Downtown Association. Jankay, a 27-year-veteran of Farmers Market, said he has not been told of a specific reason for the decision and declined to speculate.

However, veteran observers believe that Jankay has clashed once too often with Deborah Cash, the executive director of the Downtown Association. They point to recent attempts by Cash to move a portion of the farmers’ stalls off the popular Higuera Street location to Morro Street–a move fought by Jankay.

Supporters will be asking the city council to intervene and restore the power of the Farmers Market Association. The meeting, open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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Over this past weekend, I had opportunity to hear an interesting and different take on the Farmer’s Market controversy. I can’t personally verify the information below but, if true, I am sure others could.

Someone with no connection to the SLO Farmer’s Market but having contact elsewhere with the SLO Farmer’s Market Assn. through Peter Jankay and his assistant, calls him “an abrasive A$$hole” and his assistant “not much better”. When asked why, the comment was made that to become part of the Association, one must not only meet the “Certification” standards (reasonable) but repeatedly “kiss his a$$ over a long period of time.” As a result, there may be a growing number of potential participants in farmer’s markets who refuse to join the association.

Maybe this whole controversy has blown up as much from personality conflicts as from substantive issues. If so, the SLO Farmer’s Market Assn. should reconsider who they have representing their

interests — unless Jankay is intentionally discouraging new members that way in response to a desire of the Association members to keep the Association size limited to protect member profits.

If you all want the association out of down town, why not organize and take it to a city council meeting. If you collect enough people to speak up during the public comment period you’ll get lots of press coverage. Start a petition and get people out on the streets. What do you want to bet that everyone will sign it except Deb, her cronies and the chosen businesses. I suspect that the majority of locals are in support of the Farmers and the People’s Market, not “Deb Cash & Associates”.

i have applied 2x in th last year to display my business, everytime the Farmers Market Association lost my application aparently. Ive called but and never recieved a return call. aparently they dont feel my landscaping and pool business should be part of there gig…i agree give this event to the City how can anyone afford a $75 fee every thursday thats a bit absorbanant ….lower the fee’s, get this group out and give it back the people who dont have a agenda…shame on the farmers market association

i think rogerfreberg is on to something here . the madonna mall or the mall ( i don’t know the name ) around home depot , i think that’s the madonna’s also , would be a prefect alternative for a thursday night farmer’s market there is lots of parking , the foot traffic couldn’t hurt the businesses out there , even Ralph’s would benefit . there is lot of room out there for exhibitions like puppets , car shows , music ,

dancers , etc . and of course A GREAT FARMER’S MARKET !!!! did i mention lot of parking .

Personally, I think it would be a great idea to boycott farmer’s market in downtown slo… leave it for the tourists.

I much prefer the other alternative dates and places… Saturdays in Madonna Plaza is smaller , less crowed and a lot more fun for locals.

This whole Farmer’s Market thing reminds me of the plight of kid’s soccer leagues these days. That is, originally the intention of setting up a kid’s soccer team was for the purpose of simply kids playing soccer. Requirements were grass and a soccer ball. Cost to the players, a couple bucks. Every kid in town that wanted to play could play. Now it seems soccer in this town is no longer about the kids but about the coaches “organization”, administrators and coaches pay, ref’s pay and endless “necessary” expenses. Consequently, many kids are squeezed out of a simple game.

The Downtown association, with the City of SLO is now about its “organization” and money grabbing. It is no longer about helping farmers and families that like to by great locally grown produce, and simultaneously visiting downtown shops and food booths.

The relationship between the downtown association and the city was found to be illegal. The association is being sued do to underhanded political practices that were based on promoting a select group of businesses in SLO. So the City changes the relationship, hires the same association as a contractor, and in reality nothing has changed.

As a Downtown business owner not in Deb’s approved delineation, I have received nothing but a cold and unfriendly reception by the association in setting up a booth. Because the association found that allowing only a select few businesses to set up a booth was illegal, they have responded by letting anyone with a SLO business to set up a booth only after you spend the money to get special licenses and booth set up, and then you will be called on a Thursday night if it rains, when there will be “space available”. No guarantee of any date, only during in inclement weather.

The Farmers market should be run wholly by the city. Get rid of the Deb Cash and her group that only supports a small group of SLO businesses. Why should a private citizen, married to a city attorney, draw an arbitrary line, including some businesses, and excluding other SLO businesses, block off the streets, strong arm fees from some of the businesses, and pull a salary and support an over blown “organization”. Deb should move back to LA or where ever she came from. The farmers are local, for generations, and should not be run out of town or have fees extorted from them.

Break down Farmers market to the basics. Let farmers come out and sell local produce, free of charge. Let ALL SLO businesses (not just some dictated by Deb’s private group) take turns in setting up booths and promoting their business.

We do not need the Downtown association. It is about itself, not about the locals of SLO.

Actually, Karen, it’s Deborah CASH, as in “grab the cash”

Peter Jankay has a posse