Board allows baker into Farmers Market

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Thursday, May 27, 2010
— One board member predicts the Janesville Farmers Market will grow this summer now that the board has reverted to following its written policies.

On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to allow Sheila Killion, owner of Cakes by Sheila, to sell her baked goods at the market Saturday.

Board member Val Heider said she believes the unanimous vote was the first step in getting past a recent controversy.

The board will review all vendor applications to the market and follow its written policies until it reviews those policies in November, Heider said.

Market manager Teri Huber earlier denied Killion's application because Huber said the baker's quota was filled. Several board members said Huber had the discretion to manage the mix of products at the market to protect sales of existing vendors.

Killion pointed out that board policies do not contain quotas for farm-approved products, which include baked goods. She charged a conflict of interest because Huber's family also sells baked goods at the market.

Killion's appeal of the decision and fight to vend at the farmers market set off a heated public discussion about the market's philosophy.

Five board members resigned in recent weeks, several saying they were weary of the drama or because they believed the board was not effective. One said she was unaware that Huber was turning vendors away.

On Tuesday, the board—down to five from nine—asked for the first time to hear Killion's side of the story.

Killion said she is happy with the outcome.

"My whole goal all along—my hope—is that other people won't be turned away … and that it opens the market to many people.

"It was a battle, but I'm glad I stood up. I had tons of people saying, 'Go for it. Good for you.'

"I hope this is a step in the right direction to fixing some of the bad PR out there. There's no reason why Janesville's market can't be as big as Beloit's, if not better."

Heider, too, said the meeting went well. Both Huber and Killion had their say.

The board kept the meeting quiet from the public to shut out outside influences, she said.

Heider, who also is a vendor at the market, welcomes Killion.

"I think she can add a great deal to the market," Heider said.

The board will fill its ranks as the summer goes along, Heider said.

Heider believes more vendors will begin sending in applications.

"And I think some of them that have been rejected will ask why and file a dispute, too, and that's fine. We'll deal with them as they come," Heider said.

Any other farm market applicants will be considered under the board's policies. Huber will be required to bring any applications before the full board, Heider said.

"It won't be a one-person decision," she said.

Heider expects the board will discuss the philosophies—free-market versus managed—at its November meeting, when the board examines the prior market season, she said.

Admitting Killion "is a good step to get past some of this controversy," Heider said.

"I think we're headed forward now."

Last updated: 1:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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