Vendors at farmers market protest to stay open

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.-  They thought they wouldn’t be here, but the Golden Gate Farmer’s Market is open, at least for now.

“We’re looking forward to going to the commission meeting, on the 10th, to request they keep this market open,” said vendor Skip Haeger.
Commissioners voted to close the market temporarily, that is until the county reversed the decision after the county attorney said it was illegal.

“It’s unconscionable and I think what Commissioner Henning did was reprehensible,” said Commissioner Georgia Hiller.

Hiller voted against the closing.  She and other were shocked when Commissioner Tom Henning used the word ‘gypsies” when discussing the Farmer’s Market.

In a statement to WINK News, his spokeswoman said, “the reference to traveling businesses as gypsy businesses was referencing their structure and function not any party’s race, period. It was never meant as or issued as a racial statement.”

Joey Rakow is the manager for the Golden Gate Farmer’s Market. He doesn’t buy it.

“He says it was not the people that he was talking about, but about the market itself. Well the people are the market. So, in my opinion, he’s talking about the people.”

Rakow says hundreds of people shop there because it’s all they can afford.

Nahomi Palacios and her parents walk to the market every weekend.  At just 11 years old, she knows how important it is to her family.

“Sometimes my dad doesn’t get paid,” she said. “We don’t have too much money to go somewhere else so we come here to at least get something. ”

The permit to continue to keep the market open expires in April. Vendors will be heading to a commissioner meeting in February asking for an extension.

“It’s a local market for the local people,” said Haeger.