Kari Gates, long-time Plano resident and purveyor of Spring Creek Organic Farm, lobbied for almost a year to persuade her city to change ordinances that essentially prevent farmers' markets from operating successfully there.
It didn't work.
Monday night, the Plano City Council discussed long-awaited amendments to Plano's health code and how they relate to farmers' markets. (They relate chiefly by making running a farmers market in Plano cost prohibitive.)
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While Gates was urging the council to embrace markets, Brian Collins, Plano's director of environmental health for Plano, was busily polishing and updating the old ordinances for the council's consideration. As he spoke to the council, it quickly became clear that Monday was not Gates' night. Collins fired off a dire warning about food-borne illnesses that can lead to "chronic kidney failure, brain damage and the possibility of death." And that was just his opener.
Gates was hoping the council would take more time and reconsider several key issues. For example, she wanted to city to broaden its definition of acceptable produce to include more than just fruits and vegetables. Otherwise participation in the market is a no-go for many vendors.
She also wanted the city to reconsider the way it classifies farmers markets as food establishments, which means they must be built to pricey restaurant standards and include mechanical refrigeration on site -- also expensive.
The council went along with Collins' suggestions to the contrary.
There was one glimmer of hope for market fans. The council called for a special commission to investigate a wee bit more the prospects of a farmers markets, which will probably result in more sad pictures from the Dallas Farmers Market being passed around Plano's council chamber.
More meetings. More agendas. More minutes. More work for Gates. After the meeting she said she's "committed to the crazy idea of starting an awesome farmers market in my city, three miles from my farm."