City Cracks Down On Overtown, Liberty City Farmers Markets (Updated)

Categories: News
RootsintheCity320.jpg
David Kehr
Roots in the City founder Marvin Dunn and a shopper at the opening of the Roots in the City Farmers Market
If today were a typical Wednesday, the Roots in the City Farmers Market in Overtown would be ready for business by noon. But today there will be a demonstration in place of the market, which was shut down last week by the city of Miami code enforcement office.

"We were doing very well and last Wednesday a City of Miami code enforcement officer came and gave the owner of the land a citation," said Marvin Dunn, the founder of Roots in the City. "[Today] rather than have our produce rot in the field, we're going to give our produce away."

The citation was issued to South Florida Smart Growth Land Trust, the owner of the land on the corner of NW Second Avenue and 10th Street where the market operates, for "illegal sale of fruits and merchandise from open stands and vacant lots" and for "failure to obtain a Class I special permit."

This is not the first market the city has shut down. Last month, it shut down the Liberty City Farmers Market at the Belafonte Tacolcy Center for not having proper permits. The market was forced to relocate a few blocks away to the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, which is on county land.

Farmers markets are facing similar issues than food trucks. Obtaining the permit costs $153.50 per event and organizations can only apply for two a year.

"For an organization that has the funds, that's okay but you can't expect a group of residents who wants to do something for the community to pay $3,000 for six months," said Roger Horne, one of the organizers of the Liberty City Farmers Market. "What if someone wanted to do this for a year? That's prohibitive."

Many community organizers say what it comes down to is that the city doesn't have an adequate permitting system to support farmers' markets, treating them instead as special, one-time events.

"Every city in the U.S. supports farmers markets," said James Jiler of Urban GreenWorks, an organization that works in Liberty City. "Miami is the only city that doesn't support farmers markets and when they allow them they want to charge money for them. They're doing things in a backwards way."

The Roots in the City Farmers Market launched as a pilot market for Wholesome Wave last April with a dedication ceremony attended by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Commissioner Richard Dunn. Backed by Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Roots in the City, and the Human Services Coalition it was the first local market to accept food stamps and double their value. It reopened for the season in December and would have run until the end of April.

"I just think this whole thing is just ridiculous," said Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm, one of the vendors at the Roots in the City market. "The bottom line is that we've hopefully been servicing this food desert area with our fresh fruits and vegetables and now we can't. It's not right."

The peaceful demonstration will take place today at noon at the former market site on the corner of NW Second Avenue and 10th Street in Overtown.

Update:

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Paula Niño
 
Residents and community organizers turned up to show their support for the market and so did two officials from the mayor's office who said the market had not been shut down.

"The city is not in the business of shutting down," said Alan Morley, an aide to the mayor.

The mayor's public affairs officer, Pat Santangelo, who was also on site, said the city didn't issue a cease and desist but a notice of violation, which is just a "friendly reminder." He added that all the organizers need to do is apply for the proper permits, which he said were a certificate of use permit that costs $250 for the first year but is waived for non-profit organizations and an unlimited Class I permit that costs $73. 

"We were told that you can get a special use permit two times a year," said Marvin Dunn. "Now they're saying you can get an unlimited special use permit. When did that happen? We didn't get that message."

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14 comments
jlynn
jlynn

This is so messed up! They are denying lower income people access to fresh produce. Which will improve their health and cut down on the hospital and doctors visits. Seeing as most of those people are on government assistance I would call that a win win for everyone.

Rolf
Rolf

Vote here to give Roots in the City a chance at winning a $20,000 grant. http://www.deloachcommunitygar...

Winning that money will help them stay open, and give them something to shove in the face of the city officials who think that organic vegetables pose a threat to Miami.

Ldyfancee
Ldyfancee

I see Marc Sarnoff's hands in this.

Bacon
Bacon

I wonder why Pat Santangelo, Public Affairs Officer, would state this is a non-issue. Why won't their zoning people actually speak with Dr Dunn and the group? If it is as easy as Pat states, why wouldn't he just bring them the paperwork to fill out? As we all know, corrupt Miami political officials and their staff don't care about the people.

Here is Pat's contact info in case you might want some BS PR spins and blaming on citizens.

psantangelo@miamigov.com (305)250-5304

Truthshines
Truthshines

I hope some well to do citizen who's had enough of our elected officials, storms City Hall and takes a bite out of crime, the real violators of law and morality, those known as public servants, because so few serve anything besides themselves and their abhorrent greed and ego. I wouldn't bat an eye if they were to go the way dinosaurs went, extinct and eradicated.

Henry Rajan
Henry Rajan

The corporation wants it's money now!! Fuck the peasants!! Talk about blatant in yo face corruption!! Thank you banana republic regime!!

Daisybl8
Daisybl8

This city pays tons & tons of money to it's commissioners by charging & fining obscene amounts of money to family & wholesome vendors. Corrupt & money grubbing....

EAT
EAT

This is like the most awful, stupid thing ever. It makes me want to leave Miami and never return.

Madhatt3r1
Madhatt3r1

What a crock of shit! This city is just getting greedy trying to harass the farmers markets and food trucks! We all need to speak up against this harassment!

Serg
Serg

Im guessing its just Herr Panzerkommandant Exposito justifying his job and that of his thugs. Just like the vending machine raids..that fat thug needs to go NOW! It almost feels like karma on Tomas for the unceremoniously way he dumped chief timoney one of the few PROFESSIONAL police chiefs we had..

Farmer Margie
Farmer Margie

It would be too easy to bring us the paperwork. My goodness, an efficient action might just bring down the entire house of cards-how would the bureaucrats justify all the extra time on their hands then?

Guida
Guida

This is frickin perfect. Thanks Bacon! I'm calling first thing tomorrow.

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