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Article discusses the debate over the creation of a Farmer's Market in Miami park.
Farmers Market: Splendid Idea or Pandora’s Box?
If Miami officials can overcome their fears, look for a green market in a green park
Local advocates say Legion Park would be the ideal
location for an Upper Eastside farmers market.

August 2007 Biscayne Times • www.BiscayneTimes.com 25
By Paulanne Pellegrino
Special to BT

After a July 23 meeting with officials
at Miami City Hall, supporters of
a proposed weekly farmers market to
be held at Legion Park in the city’s
Upper Eastside are guardedly optimistic
they’ll be able to proceed with
their plan. The market’s backers, who
have been working on the idea for
three years, are confident they managed
to win over city administrators
despite concerns that such an ongoing
event on public land could set an
unwanted precedent for Miami’s other
parks. Attending the meeting were
District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff
and an aide, three market advocates,
and representatives from the parks
department and the city attorney’s
Claire Tomlin, who has been operating
the two highly successful weekly
markets in Miami Beach for the past
fourteen years, was among those at the
meeting and says she was “very hopeful”
the full commission will grant
clearance pending a review being conducted
by the city attorney. “If an
agreement can be written in a manner
that officials are comfortable with, and
we do a very good job, we can prove
to the city that this can be a place that
the people in this neighborhood can
use responsibly and enjoy.” As far as
Tomlin is concerned, Legion Park, is
the ideal venue for an Upper Eastside
weekly green market because of its
central location (Biscayne Boulevard
at 64th Street), lush setting, and ample
parking. She predicts that residents,
whom she says have been very receptive
to the concept, will quickly come
to rely on it as an economical and safe
alternative for their fresh fruit and
Bill Mathisen, an Upper Eastside
resident who has been involved with
the farmers market proposal since its
inception, believes the city will support
the idea despite its reservations,
which he agrees are legitimate. “The
crux of the situation,” he explains, “is
that even if we legislate that Legion
Park is allowed to have Claire’s
market specifically, how will the
city be able to respond to and control
other activities in other locations
that will be perhaps marginally
run and nothing like our farmers
Indeed permission for such an
event could open the floodgates to a
multitude of requests that might
leave the city vulnerable to charges
of discrimination should another
group be denied use of a public
park for their own money-making
enterprises. In addition, a new ordinance
would have to be written and
passed by the city commission to
override a legal limit on the number
of times the same event can take
place on public property, which now
stands at two per year.
Many other communities have
solved such problems. Indeed the
number of farmers markets nationwide
has grown dramatically in
recent years, driven by increased
interest in healthy eating and concerns
over the environmental costs
of transporting food thousands of
miles to consumers. According to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
the number of farmers markets
across the country increased by
more than 50 percent between 2000
and 2006, to approximately 4400.
Florida’s Department of Agriculture
counts 77 farmers markets currently
operating throughout the state.
Kris Wessel, well-known chef and
restaurateur, is chairman of the
MiMo Biscayne Association’s arts
and cultural committee. He is
undaunted by the possibility that
Miami officials will deny the
request for a farmers market in
Legion Park.
“If we have to put tropical fruit
and lettuce farmers in the parking
lot of a motel on Biscayne
Boulevard, that’s fine,” he says.
“We want as much action and culture
as we can get [along the
Boulevard], and we’re planning
many events – from Art Basel to
antique cars. The city is remembering
problems they had in the 1980s
and 1990s with events that got out
of control. If they decide to reject
our request, then we have plans B,
C, and D ready to go.”

Feedback: letters@biscaynetimes.com
Continued from page 25
Farmers Market

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