Astonishment in Plymouth

Astonishment in Plymouth

Dozens of onlookers sat stunned tonight in the Plymouth Select Board meeting, as the inexorable policy-making machine ground out a particularly fine specimen of farmers’ market sausage. Come to think of it, no one in the crowd looked more stunned than the Board members themselves, who kept up a nice show of support for The Plymouth Farmers’ Market while kicking the legs out from under it (and—finesse!—still claiming ignorance as to how things came to this pass).

The winning bid had been entered by Chris Pratt of Explore Historic Plymouth, whose i-dotting and t-crossing style (and offer of cash) seems to have deeply affected Assistant Town Manager Melissa Arrighi, in a way that eight years of commitment and hard work and some puny contributions to the parks by Barbara Anglin could not. Ms. Arrighi’s enthusiastic recommendation to the Board to accept Ms. Pratt’s bid was unanimously accepted, after a few perfunctory questions, pretty much just like that. The Chair’s coy hints last Tuesday about “finding a moderate path” or “some sort of compromise” had encouraged some of the greener by-standers to expect creativity and leadership; how hard could it be in this big town, with so many hours each week not already occupied with farmers’ markets, to make everybody happy? Apparently, “everybody” doesn’t have a say in this; the RFP just kept on marching along in its raggedy cheap business suit, like a zombie in a bad movie, staggering to its inexorable (there’s that word again) whimper of a conclusion.

In a brief interview after the pitchforks and torches had left the building, Ms. Pratt pledged her commitment to create “a real community market” with the help of neighborhood and business leaders and other Plymoutheans. She acknowledged that there’s a wee bit of a trust gap out there right now, but hopes that everyone will “keep an open mind” about the new Exploring Historic Plymouth Farmers’ Markets.

edible South Shore wishes her and the group she represents well in their efforts—after all, it has been our opinion all along that Plymoutheans deserve more access to fresh local foods. It’s just that we had envisioned a process whereby the Town might spread the model to other locations and time slots and managers, not auction an established business to the highest bidder.

Things didn’t have to end this way; as Walter “Morrie” Morrison pointed out early in the meeting, there are plenty of knowledgeable folks around town—people like him who’ve dealt with local food producers for decades—whose input was never sought for a second. As that nice farmer from Middleboro, Dave Purpura, said last Tuesday, “I just don’t get it”.

Paula Marcoux
edible South Shore


About eSS&SC

The South Shore and South Coast has been home to hunting, gathering, fishing, farming––and great eating––for over 10,000 years. We are committed to identifying, devouring, and sharing all that Southeastern Massachusetts has to offer today and preserving local options for future generations.
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6 Responses to Astonishment in Plymouth

  1. Marilyn Buckner says:

    I am not a Plymouth resident so cannot cast my vote when any of these select (sic) people run for re-election, but I sure can vote with my feet and I hope others will join me. I had never heard of or been to Steven’s Field before the Plymouth Farmer’s Market brought me there and I can say I don’t care if I never see it again!

  2. professormortis says:

    I would say “unbelievable outcome” but unfortunately money and politics seem to win out far more often than they rightfully should. A real shame.

  3. Heidi Mayo says:

    I just don’t understand why they didn’t offer the other bidders different time slots and venues…
    Astonishing is right.

  4. Kara says:

    Well, remember, Nancy – those pilgrims banished people who didn’t stick closely to their rules. They were a very singular type, those pilgrims! But this, THIS is a show of stunning weakness, and after seeming to understand the issue over the last few weeks – to not even debate or stand up against the Assistant Town Manager’s recommendation? Bought and paid for, they are. Or scared. But in either case – the (Original!) Plymouth Farmers Market will ring the cowbell again for the 2012 season – we’ll have an exciting announcement soon about all that. She wants to create a “real community market”, huh? Well, there IS one already. And if she thinks the trust issue is a “wee bit of a gap” – well – I think the word chasm is more appropriate. 🙂

  5. Nancy Griffin says:

    Beautifully written. Shocking outcome. But likely the good folks who supported the original market will create another equally wonderful market, perhaps even better, if that’s possible. Sad to see hard work and creativity steamrolled for money and by a really undemocratic process. And in Plymouth, of all places. If the Pilgrims had taken the attitude of the select board and worked to undermine each other and steal each other’s ideas, there probably wouldn’t be a Plymouth today.

  6. Erin says:

    Well said
    A very sad day for Plymouth
    Other markets

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