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Fairfax Is in Danger of Losing its Farmers Market

Town officials are awaiting qualified applicants to take over the popular market after its organizers pull out.

“We have a short time line,” said Fairfax Town Clerk Judy Anderson. “I’m not sure if we can pull it off.”

The urgency surrounds the Fairfax Farmers Market, which may be in jeopardy if someone doesn’t step in to organize it.

Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) has run the event for seven years, but Anderson said they recently pulled out, saying it was too costly to operate.

“They said it was losing money and they didn’t want to do it again this year,” Anderson said of AIM.

AIM officials declined to comment.

In July 2012, the Marin County Board of Supervisors inked a deal with AIM to provide up to $1 million in matching funds for improvements at the Christmas Tree lot at the Civic Center, where the county and AIM would like to move both the from the nearby locations of its Thursday and Sunday farmers markets, which AIM operates.

"AIM's focus on that project combined with the cost of operating the Fairfax Market seems to be why the board decided to sever ties with our little market," Fairfax Councilman Larry Bragman said. "Our separation was amicable and town officials actually met with Brigette Moran in order to discuss the future of the Fairfax Market. Its a bittersweet ending to a very successful relationship that saw the Bolinas Park Farmers Market become an integral part of Fairfax's local scene."

Fairfax Mayor John Reed agreed with Bragman.

"Their board felt that they have grown to be a larger organization, with many projects (and employees) aiming to benefit farmers, with the funding for these projects coming largely from the management of Farmers Markets," he said. "Since only larger markets produce enough revenue to support their larger goals, they decided to give up managing our relatively small market"

“So bummed to lose Agricultural Institute of Marin as a partner for our Fairfax Farmers Market,” Fairfax Councilwoman Pam Hartwell wrote on her Facebook page. “If you know of another market manager that would like to apply Fairfax has a request for proposals.”

What Hartwell didn’t say is that time is of the essence. There’s a February 28 deadline to apply to coordinate the market and the Town Council will make a choice at its March 6 meeting — provided there’s a choice to make.

Anderson, as of Wednesday afternoon, had sent out just three unsolicited applications. One of the recipients, Monique Anderson, is at least familiar with the program. She is the daughter of AIM’s leader, Bridget Moran, and helps run one of the markets in San Rafael.

The market was scheduled to run on Wednesdays from May 1 to Sept. 25. The market is located in Bolinas Park, adjacent to the Fairfax Town Hall.

A request for proposals has been posted at the town’s website, providing details.

Anderson said she hopes someone comes through to save the market. “The community really likes it.”

Will you miss the Fairfax Farmers Market if it goes away? Give us your feedback.

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E. Bond Francisco February 21, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Will absolutely miss the farmers market. Even though I didn't shop there often, driving past it every Wednesday reinforced my belief that Fairfax is the coolest little city in Marin!
Jim Caldwell February 22, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Nice effort Fairfax Council, maybe if you weren't too busy fretting over plastic bags and lead blowers you would have engaged farmers' market options well ahead of time. Instead we get glad handing after the fact and little time for resolution. "Amicable" isn't good enough Bragman, get to work and keep the market open, resolve yourself to fid a solution.
Larry Bragman February 25, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Jim: AIM did not give us official notice of their intention to abandon Fairfax until we met in Fairfax. Once we knew that AIM did not intend to continue its management of the Fairfax Market, our new town manager immediately drafted an Request for Proposal which was publicly posted and sent to two organizations who expressed interest in taking over management of the Fairfax Farmers Market. I am very optimistic that the market will return this Spring without interruption. Thanks, Larry Bragman Fairfax Town Council
del bosque February 28, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Impressive response Mr Bragman - to avoid "Cadwell's" obnoxious roil and stay focused on the topic. As for us, while we have been big supporters of farmers' markets since our UCDavis days and the re-start of the practice as we know it now, but we rarely shopped at the Fairfax farmer's market - too limited and not on a good day for us. We are also blessed with the new Good Earth and their much expanded, local focused, produce section. Hope the market survives - if the demand is there. Oh and big Thank You for taking on plastic bags, polystyrene containers, et al. Democracy at work!
Gina March 01, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Wish I had the expertise to organize it myself.... My daughter and i ( and many of our friends) have enjoyed the Fairfax Farmers Market for many years and SO look forward to shopping there every Wed. when it returns in the springtime... We can not afford the "Good Earth" prices, so do not shop there, but once a week love to get GOOD fresh produce, flowers, a yummy dinner, maybe a handmade good, and hear some great music. Also watching the children get their magical face paintings, playing in the trees and on the grass and having a fabulous time in the jumpy houses or just picnicking with their family and friends is such a special treat! i sure hope we do not lose this..... Gina

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