Jun 22, 2010

Zoning office shuts down Pulaski Academy Farmers Market

You may be wondering what happened to the farmers market at Pulaski Academy yesterday. Unfortunately, a code enforcement officer came by and prevented the farmers from setting up. Apparently, they were in violation of city zoning laws and someone complained.

The farmers have been serving West Little Rock on Mondays at Pulaski Academy for several weeks after being invited by the school to set up on their private grounds. Neither the school nor the farmers were aware that they were in violation of zoning laws and needed a variance from the city to be able to legally hold the market. The farmers requested that they be allowed to sell the over $1000 dollars of food that they had already picked and hauled to the market, but were told they would be fined $1000 if they sold anything.

I understand that cities have zoning rules and that not everyone appreciates our local farmers the way that I do. What I don't understand is not giving them a warning and allowing them to go ahead and sell the food they had in their trucks. The harvest is pouring in right now and farmers can't afford this type of profit loss.

These farmers have been providing a valuable service to West Little Rock and lots of people want them to stay. I am ashamed that our city treated them like fake Swiss watch salesmen instead of giving them the respect that is due to men who labor in the Arkansas heat to offer us truly fresh food that hasn't been shipped from across the country or across the world.

The variance that the farmers need to keep selling generally takes a month of bureaucratic red tape. Usually red tape can be greatly speeded up with help from the right people. This is being looked into.

In the meantime you can call the zoning office manager, Mr. Dana Carney, and express your displeasure at the way this situation was handled. I called this morning and received his voice mail where I left a message. I will continue to try to talk to him in person. The message I would like Mr. Carney to receive is that there are a lot of people who want the farmers at Pulaski Academy. We think they deserve respect, and we are displeased at the way the city damaged their businesses yesterday by not allowing them to sell the produce that was already brought to market. The more people who call the better. You don't have to have a lengthy conversation just ask for Mr. Carney then say, "I'm calling in support of the farmers who were shut down at Pulaski Academy yesterday. I want to let the zoning office know that I am disappointed that they were not allowed to sell the food they had already picked for that day. I hope that our city will treat our farmers with more respect in the future and that you will do whatever you can to help reinstate them at Pulaski Academy." Be firm, but respectful.
You can reach Mr. Carney's office at 371-4844. You can also e-mail dcarney@littlerock.org Please make contact.

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  1. Thanks Lisa for being a voice on this issue. I was looking forward to shopping the WLR Famer's Market and remember when there used to be a small farmers market on Saturday mornings at Second Presbyterian at the corner of Pleasant Valley and Cantrell. Maybe they have the kind of variance needed. Hope a place can be found, please keep us all posted.

  2. I emailed Mr. Carney today. Thanks, Lisa!



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