Author Topic: Please get all the facts on the proposed farmers' market ordinance  (Read 13937 times)

Offline nbuffum

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Another note on Grove Street -  if you ban prepared foods at all Farmers Markets, Grove Street will simply re-register on a Festival Permit a la the Sixth Borough Market.  They could then have as many food trucks as they want and continue with business as usual.  Meanwhile, you've fucked half the city.

Grove Street is an issue with the Special Improvement District.  It has nothing to do with Farmers Markets.  Don't confuse the issues.

Offline trixoh

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Mr. Morrill's comments seem incredibly Grove Street / Downtown-centric.  I am sympathetic to the difficulties of starting up a business and I can see the unfair advantage that might be culminating at the Grove Street markets (because it's not just the farmer's market that has food trucks, right? I've been to other, non-farmer's markets events at Grove Street that have had food trucks) - however, a blanket legislation for a specific concern seems so totally tone-deaf.

I live in an area that Two Boots doesn't even deem worthy enough for delivery service (the Heights - see http://twobootsjerseycity.com/ for delivery area).  Food trucks enhance this particular market -- the reason why we have food trucks there?  Because people asked for them -- because here in the Heights, we have pretty limited food options (example : I order from Pizza Masters at least once or twice a week).  We don't have the luxury of 17 restaurants available to us.

Instead of pushing legislation, I am curious to know if you've had discussions with the organizers of the Grove Street Farmer's Market -- and if so, can you share the outcome?  Have you ventured outside of the downtown area to see how the other farmer's market operate? How these food trucks might fill in the gaps in a particular community?

Everyone wants Jersey City to be successful.  That means the both neighborhood and the businesses that service them.  Please be mindful that Jersey City is not downtown and downtown is not Jersey City. 

Offline Miss Eliza Bennet

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I must say, when I first read Dear Mr. Morrill's comments, I didn't think much about it, though it did strike me I've never seen anything pre-prepared at Union Square other than bread and cookies. But as I shopped at the Grove Street Farmers Market today, I was struck by how much of the food is pre-prepared...and from other towns. I realized if you took out the Vendors and left only the Farmers, there would be precious few stalls.

I don't mind stalls from local businesses as much, but I think it so much more supportive to patronize our homegrown very nice shops, indeed, as much as I think it so very nice to have farm fresh vegetables. Rereading his statements I must say he's got a convert in me.

Points well made, my Dear Mr. Morrill! Not another prepared meal from a Farmers Market for Carlo and me!

Offline MÇA

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Offline nbuffum

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AaRoMo...I think your real problem is with the Grove Street market and its Special Improvement District and you're way overreaching with your proposed changes to a very good city proposal. 

If you're familiar with the current ordinance, you'll notice that it requires 55% of the vendors to be local farmers.  That in and of itself should drastically cut down on the numbers of food trucks at the Grove Street Market and should be of great benefit to your business.

Before asking for even more draconian changes, perhaps you could familiarize yourself with other areas of Jersey City aside from just Downtown...places that don't have 17 restaurants within a short radius of their markets.  There you'll see that food trucks are an essential aspect of their market planning- driving foot traffic that quite literally allows those farmers to be successful. 

Maybe your group of downtown businesses should focus on turning the Grove Street SID into a better neighbor?  Have you sat down with them and voiced your concerns or do you just see this legislation as an easy way to get your way?  Either way, please recognize that this is a big city with diverse areas and resources.  Don't ask for wholesale city-wide changes because your small section isn't quite up to the "New York City standard".

Offline AaRoMo

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Dear Neighbor:

I'm posting this message today because next week our city council will consider an ordinance that will radically change the law regulating farmers markets in Jersey City.   If enacted, this ordinance will pose a great threat to local brick and mortar food businesses.   

On Friday, many people received an email calling on them to support this ordinance.  Before you make up your mind, I hope you’ll take a minute to hear the other side.   

By way of background, I am the owner of Two Boots Pizza Jersey City and the spokesperson for a group of 17 downtown restaurants that oppose the sale of “prepared” (a/k/a “ready to eat,”  “grab and go”) foods at farmers’ markets.    In the interest of brevity, I’ve set out in bullet points the reasons that the new farmers’ market ordinance should be withdrawn and re-written.

•   The ordinance doesn’t create true farmers’ markets.  We support true farmers’ markets.   By “true,” we mean farmers’ markets like those (for example) in New York City, the largest and most successful program in the country.   They are defined as places where “local farmers, fishers and bakers sell what they grow, raise, catch and bake themselves.”  Prepared foods are not permitted.   Why is this?  Because New York City recognizes that the purpose of a farmers’ market is to fill a gap, not to sell that which is already being offered by existing businesses.  In contrast, Jersey City’s proposed ordinance allows for the almost unlimited sale of prepared foods as well as food that is manufactured, factory made and non-local.  Indeed under the definition in the ordinance, a farmers’ market in Jersey City could sell Cocoa Puffs.  I doubt that his is what anyone wants.   We support real, honest to goodness farmers’ markets.   Food that is fresh, local and sold by farmers and producers.

•   It creates unfair competition.   Opening a restaurant is an expensive, risky undertaking.   Beyond the cost of building, which can rise into the millions, we must pay high rents, staff our restaurants, even when there’s little business, and pay high taxes and fees to Jersey City.  In contrast, the food trucks and table vendors who participate at local farmers’ markets have very few of these expenses.  They are largely from outside Jersey City and many don’t even have physical locations.  They can employ a handful of people (usually from outside Jersey City) for a few hours a day.   They can come in during peak hours and leave during the slow hours while we remain open, often losing money.  In our case downtown, they have been given the best location in Jersey City during peak hours.  And yet they have none of our costs.  It’s as if they got orchestra seats for the price of standing room.  We believe in a level playing field.  We believe in fair competition.    If they want to sell in a prime location, they can do as we did and rent a space.   They can make a commitment to our neighborhood and our city. We welcome their fair competition.

•   What is good for Jersey City’s economy?   We believe that Jersey City should encourage and nurture investment in brick and mortar businesses.  The building of physical restaurants pumps millions of dollars into the Jersey City economy.  We hire local contractors.  We buy from local businesses.  We employ thousands of Jersey City residents.  We pay hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in taxes and fees.  In contrast, the prepared food vendors at farmers’ markets employ almost no Jersey City residents and pump little, if any, money into the local economy.  Indeed, fully 21of the 31 vendors at the Grove Street farmers’ market are from outside Jersey City.   Of the ten from Jersey City, only four invested in physical locations in Jersey City and none in the pricey Grove Street area.   Or put differently, only 13% of the prepared food vendors at Grove Plaza have made any contribution to the Jersey City economy.  Compare that to 100% of us.   Some of us have seen real sales declines on the days the farmers’ market takes place.   Sales declines equal weaker businesses.   Weaker brick and mortar businesses aren’t good for our local economy. 

•   What will be the effect of the ordinance? We believe that if food trucks and table vendors are allowed to sell at farmers markets with their massive cost advantage, it will deter further investment in new brick and mortar food businesses.   Who wouldn’t think twice about locating a food business next to what is in essence a city-subsidized food court?   Such an outcome wouldn’t be good for Jersey City.   If we truly want more food businesses to open in Jersey City, we should lower barriers to entry, not erect them.

What is the solution?  We believe that the Department of Health and Human Services should do what wasn’t done initially and sit down with all stakeholders.   Stakeholders would include the organizers of farmers’ markets, representatives of food businesses and the special improvement districts.   With everyone at the table, we are confident that Jersey City can have vibrant farmers’ markets alongside strong brick and mortar food businesses.   

I would be more than happy to discuss this with anyone who wishes.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.

Aaron Morrill


 

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