DCRA response to criticism over Liberty Market closure
Last week the Liberty Market opened for the Spring season at 7th and K Streets NW on Mount Vernon Square. The operation was promptly shut down for not having adequate permits. Yesterday Martin Moulton, president of the Convention Center Community Association (CCCA), issued an open letter to Councilmembers Jack Evans (Ward 2) and Tommy Wells (Ward 6) to criticize the action taken against the market.
A communication, included after the Read More jump, from DCRA has been issued on the Shaw listservs in response to Martin’s letter.
Response from Mike Rupert of DCRA:
The event that was taking place near the corner of 7th & K streets this weekend was not a farmers’ market. Farmers’ markets are for farmers selling their own homegrown fresh products from the region and are exempt from licensing requirements for events on public space.
The event that was taking place was a collection of vendors of which very few, to our knowledge, were farmers.
Secondly, the “raid” as described in a release from the event’s organizer was actually a single police officer asking for basic information about the products and for documentation giving permission to operate on the private property. The organizers could not produce any documentation. And although DCRA was not present during the event, the organizer told the police officer the food vendors were not farmers.
We have been in contact with the event organizer and told them exactly what they need to do to continue to operate their market. They need to produce a letter giving them permission to operate at that location which will allow them to get a Certificate of Occupancy for the event, and they need to get a General Business license.
Many of the food products being sold were also products we believe were not grown by the region’s farmers including Columbian coffee, oranges and other items. It is important that those vendors selling non-regional food products get a food license so the city’s heath inspectors can ensure they are safe for residents. In addition to these suspect food items, the event had vendors selling t-shirts, crafts and other items not covered under the farmers’ market exemption.
We are huge supporters of farmers’ markets and have been lauded by D.C. Hunger Solutions and the D.C. Farmers’ Market Collaborative for our efforts to simplify regulations that encourage new farmers’ markets and differentiate them in regulations from other events.
We have already told this event’s organizers that we will work closely with them to come into compliance with the regulations that cover the type of market they are attempting to create. But based on the products at this event, it would not be considered a farmer’s market.
Please let us know if anyone has any questions or concerns.
What are your thoughts?
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