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Controversy surrounds Greater Springfield Farmers Market

February 01, 2012|by Emily Wood, KY3 News | ewood@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some of the 100 or so local produce and meat vendors involved with the Greater Springfield Farmers Market said they were kicked out of the organization after declaring their intentions to sell their goods at a new marketplace proposed to be set up about two miles away from the Greater Springfield market.

"That's where we get our customers. That's where we make the most of our sales," said Adam Millsap, a local producer, about the Greater Springfield Farmers Market.

Adam and Melissa Millsap own Urban Roots Farm in Springfield.  Their main source for income has been customers at the Greater Springfield Farmers Market.  Now they say they are without a place to vend their goods for the next few months.

"Basically any vendor that wanted to be a Greater Springfield Farmers Market member would not be allowed to participate in any other market within Springfield city limits," said Millsap.

The Millsaps are part of a group helping plan a new farmers marketplace in Springfield, slated for an April opening.  They said leaders of the Greater Springfield Farmers Market told them Monday that they would not be allowed to sell their goods at both markets.

"Our plan was to sell at both locations on Saturdays," said Millsap.

Matt O'Reilly is the developer behind the proposed Farmers Market of the Ozarks.  The proposed site for his market is a field on Republic Road near Houlihan's Restaurant and Hilton Garden Inn.  That proposal is also a source of contention for some of the longtime members of the Greater Springfield Farmers Market.

"We've simply stated to them, 'You are free to choose whichever market you want to be a part of,'" said Brad Gray, Market Manager, with the Greater Springfield Farmers Market.

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Gray said leaders with the proposed Farmers Market of the Ozarks solicited growers, like the Millsaps, from his market.

"You might say lure our members into their market to join their market," said Gray.

The new market is slated to be just two miles from the Greater Springfield market, and both will be open Saturdays.

"Even though there might be some businesses that could run in both markets at the same time and afford to do that, we feel it would have caused us an economic impact," said Gray.

Gray said that is why the board decided to require Greater Springfield members to choose between the markets.

O'Reilly said he hopes to have his new farmers market open by April 7 of this year.

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