Well, it’s official. Hermann and Louise Bruns of Wild Flight Farm will no longer be at the summer Farmers Market.
On Sunday evening they sent a lengthy message to me and all the clients on their e-mail list. Here’s what they wrote:
Dear Revelstoke friends and customers,
We were hoping that our conflict with the directors of the Revelstoke Farm and Craft Market (RFCM) could be resolved internally without going public, but now that it’s out there we feel obliged to make a statement about what has happened and explain the implications. I (Louise) have taken on drafting this letter in an effort to help Hermann through the stress and extra workload that this situation has created.
Our departure from the market is not by choice. We are being forced to leave by the five-member board of directors of the RFCM. Their decision has been made without discussion with ourselves, without consultation with the membership and without bringing the matter to a vote, which goes against due process as required by society bylaws. They have simply refused our membership renewal for 2017 by mailing back our cheque. The board has also made it very clear that the upcoming AGM is a “closed meeting” (no non-members or public allowed) so we won’t be able to attend to raise an objection to this decision.
The actual grounds for our dismissal have not been communicated to us, despite several requests for clarification. We do know that one bone of contention is the fact that Hermann has (for the past several years) requested permission to bring a small selection of BC organic items such as apples, carrots, potatoes and onions to round out our own spring offerings from May to mid June. The purpose of this is to bridge the seasonal gap in these staple items until they become available from ourselves or another market vendor. This practice was driven by customer demand. Hermann has sought approval from the RFCM membership, on an annual basis, through a motion put forward at the annual general meeting. The motion has always passed, but not without opposition from the board. We have always understood that if at any point the membership voted not to allow this practice, we would be bound to abide by that decision.
We want to emphasize that our conflict is with the current board of directors of the Revelstoke Farm and Craft (Summer) Market, not with the membership as a whole. There are several vendors who share our concerns over the governance issues, and many others who are largely unaware of the situation. As there is clearly no possibility for communication or reconciliation with the current board, we’re exploring options for setting up a second summer market in Revelstoke, but there is much work to be done to make that happen.
It’s extremely upsetting for Hermann and I to be put in this position after our 24-year history with Revelstoke and the market. Our work life has been entirely dedicated to providing good, organic food for our appreciative customers. We love this town, have made many good friends here, and consider Revelstoke to be an important part of our broader community.
Our heart-felt thanks to all of you who have reached out to express your support and to offer suggestions. We know we are not alone in our frustration that Revelstoke’s summer market is being managed in a closed and undemocratic manner.
Here’s hoping that something positive will come from this in the end, and that we can find a way to keep feeding you this spring and summer!
Louise and Hermann
PS. In the meantime we are still continuing with our winter markets into late April. Watch for our regular newsletter on Tuesday.