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Los Altos farmers market suspended amid operator controversy

Uploaded: Jun 19, 2020
UPDATE: The Los Altos Farmers' Market resumed on Thursday, June 25. The Los Altos Village Association did not respond to an inquiry about whether CFMA is continuing as the market operator.

The Los Altos Farmers' Market was temporarily suspended this week amid calls to boycott the market's operator, the California Farmers' Market Association, for controversial comments its director made to a vendor distributing rainbow LGBTQ pride flags.

The Los Altos Farmers' Market has been temporarily suspended while the Los Altos Village Association investigates controversial comments made by the market operator. Photo taken May 5, 2016 by Michelle Le.

California Farmers' Market Association Executive Director Gail Hayden was filmed earlier this month telling a vendor at the Livermore Farmers' Market to stop handing out rainbow flags in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, saying the practice of distributing flags violated market policy.

The video of the incident quickly went viral, and the California Farmers' Market Association (CFMA) stepped down as manager of the Livermore Farmers' Market.

The Los Altos Village Association's board of directors decided on Wednesday to suspend the local market while they investigate the incident, said Scott Hunter, executive director of the Los Altos Village Association.

"They were concerned that it was an offensive reaction from CFMA and felt that it really had no place here in Los Altos," he said, "but since they are a longtime provider we wanted to be able to for the first week put things on hold while we investigated and heard from them and determined were going to do in the future."

The California Farmers' Market Association has managed the Los Altos market for at least a decade, Hunter said. The seasonal market takes place on 2nd Street on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m.

Hayden told the Pleasanton Weekly that she was enforcing "standing policy."

"We don't have any problem with gay pride, but we have a problem with flags and it was blown out of proportion and it's very sad now because people are boycotting something that doesn't need to be boycotted," she said.

In the video, she tells the vendor, Dan Floyd of Dan Good Cookies, "My job is to run the market, not to satisfy your political point of view."

In a statement posted to the CFMA website, Hayden apologized and said she "regrets the unfortunate incident that took place at the Livermore Downtown Farmers Market."

"While we were focused on enforcing the market's rules, we neglected to see the bigger picture Dan was expressing with his Pride flags. The LGBTQ+ community deserves a tolerant environment to express and celebrate their identity. We should not have allowed the escalation of the conversation to take place and we apologize for the inaccurate implications that were made. CFMA recognizes that the Pride flag and the LGBTQ+ community that what it represents is not a political ideology," she said.

Los Altos Village Association board members are still waiting to talk with CFMA, Hunter said. He hopes the board will make a decision about the partnership before next Thursday's market. They are considering all options, including continuing with the California Farmers' Market Association.

"We certainly don't condone discrimination in any form," Hunter said. "Our board was upset by what they saw but want to make sure that we take everything into account."

It's unclear whether Los Altos Farmers' Market vendors were notified about the market cancelation. At least one, Little Sky Bakery, sent an email to customers late Thursday afternoon saying the Los Altos market was canceled but she wasn't sure why.

Hunter said it would have been CFMA's responsibility to notify vendors as the organization is "the complete turnkey provider for the event."

The California Farmers' Market Association also operates the Sunday Mountain View Farmers' Market.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Gail Hayden- feh!!!!!!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:09 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by fire Gail Hayden, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Fire Gail Hayden. Problem solved. I am shocked this hasn't happened yet.

Posted by Flags Are OK BUT..., a resident of Los Altos Hills,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Produce stands are for selling & buying produce...not promoting political and/or social viewpoints.

If Los Altos is suspending it's farmer's market over a gay rights agenda so be it as there are other produce stands for customers to to frequent & only the downtown Los Altos farmer's market vendors will suffer from this measure.

Farmer's markets should remain detached from social and/or political agendas...not the time or place.

Posted by Gail Hayden feh , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Flags are ok- have you been to farmers markets. The are always promoting polical/social viewpoints �" manner of farming, green agendas, environmental issues and on and on.

No problem with a seller pushing a political/social agenda as long as the stand is not is all politics and no product to sell.

And Gail Hayden has no place in a farmers market . Glad she is gone.

Posted by smorr, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:03 pm

smorr is a registered user.

My concern with the cancellation of a Farmers' Market because of the actions of 1 vendor and the vitriol of 1 person representing CFMA is the effect on the farmers and other vendors as well as the farmworkers, all of whose livelihoods are affected. There must be better ways of dealing with this than closing the market and negatively impacting so many people.

Posted by Flags Are OK But..., a resident of Los Altos Hills,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:17 pm

> "...farming, green agendas, environmental issues and on and on."

^ Those topics are RELATIVE to produce markets and their customer base.

BLM, LGBT rights, the 2020 presidential election etc. are not relavant produce market issues unless they somehow involve (or convey) your aforementioned agricultural/environmental issues and concerns.

People go to farmer's markets to buy fruits and vegetables.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Resident is a registered user.

So are people allowed to distribute flags or not? If someone else came along distributing say California flags, or Boy Scout flags, or Mazda or advertising flags would that be OK?

My point is, if it was the distribution of flags then it was immaterial what type of flags they were. A policy about the distribution of any type of material either in support of a cause or advertisement is a blanket policy and should be adhered to by all, without exception.

If there is no policy about the distribution then presumably anybody could distribute such items and equally presumably anybody could say no thanks when offered.

I am confused.

Posted by Which is it?, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:35 pm

The article that's linked has a quote from Gail Hayden's daughter saying that if they had taken the flags off of their sticks and handed them out it would have been okay. She alleges that kids were using the flags as swords and it was a safety issue. Why does their story keep changing? In the video of Gail Hayden berating the vendor there is no mention of that issue

Posted by Gail Hayden feh , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:13 pm

“ People go to farmer's markets to buy fruits and vegetables"

I have seen stands at farmers markets selling crafts, works of art, handmade jewelry, bread products, jellies and jams.
I have also seen stands at farmers markets advocating for,certain issues.
Much more to farmers markets than just fruits and veggies.

Posted by SMH, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Jun 20, 2020 at 3:14 pm

If you have rules they should be applied equally. But I guess BLM - which has a variety of meanings - is above the rules and the law. The circumstance of people who are visiting a farmer's market to buy fresh produce is now co-opted by clever BLM solicitors and advocates. That's political. What if someone promoting Jews for Jesus tried to give out little symbols of some sort....oh, of course, forbidden. So what's popular to the current mob is what is “cool" and permitted, and the supervisor trying to run a farmer's market, keep politics and unrelated topics/solicitors out is thrown out. Incredible.

Posted by LAH resident, a resident of Los Altos Hills,
on Jun 20, 2020 at 4:39 pm

We need to step back and end the culture of escalating everything into a big deal. Just look at the case: a squabble ensued in Livermore between one vendor and the CFMA manager. Instead of playing it down someone posts a video, mob is in an uproar, city of Los Altos makes a decision to pause the market. Who wins? Nobody. Who loses? The vendors, the Los Altos community. Whatever the case they could have the market while the case is under investigation.

As to the flags, I would not buy anything from this guy because I come to the market to buy tasty produce and to support the local vendors, not to listen or support anyones agendas. For that there are other venues. If they do have rules everyone should respect them, but gain it is time to learn how to de-escalate.

Posted by Geez, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Jun 21, 2020 at 7:17 am

@LAH Resident- I couldn't agree more.
@smorr- I agree with you in concept re harm to the farmers but your characterization of the CFM director as “vitriolic" is inflammatory and unnecessary. The rules make sense, they should be applied equally to all social groups and she was informing the vendor of the rules while he continued to argue with her. She was not berating him. Shame on the Los Altos Village Association for getting involved.

Posted by Diego, a resident of Stanford,
on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:45 am

Good on them for pausing this. The whole CFMA is full of hatred as they've changed their stories a million times and it came out she was pushing a right wing agenda. All the farmer's markets need to drop her.

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