Dear vendors, volunteers and members of the St Johns community,
The Board of the St Johns Farmers Market is exploring a potential merge with St. Johns Main Street. We want to let you know a bit more about how and why we came to this process.
The St. Johns Farmers Market has been fiscally sponsored by North Portland Neighborhood Services for almost 6 years. We’ve been encouraged by NPNS to find different arrangements so that NPNS can grow other fledgling community organizations. We all agree that now is the right time for this change.
The idea for this merger is to solidify the organizational structure of the market. It has the potential to allow the market to take advantage of additional resources and an established governance infrastructure. It is also a potential opportunity condense community fundraising and recruitment efforts. While the details are yet to be discussed, in the event of a merger there would be a committee of volunteers for SJFM as well as board representation for the market on the Main Street board.
The first step for the SJFM board is a vote to move forward and begin the vetting process with Main Street. A vote to express our intent to explore a potential merge was originally scheduled for a special meeting held on August 28th and has been postponed until the September monthly meeting. It is important to make clear that the language of the vote was to begin forming a plan alongside Main Street and other key stakeholders over a 90 day period. It was not ever a vote to finalize a merge.
If in the months following such a vote, we decide that the needs of the market and all it’s constituents (the vendors, customers, employees, etc.) are met then we will consider a vote to become a part of Main Street. If it appears that the needs of the St. Johns Farmers Markets can’t be met or that major changes will occur, then the merger will not be approved.
The SJFM board is committed to ensuring that a proposed merger will keep the market in tact and still relatively autonomous. All programming would carry on (and may actually improve with the assistance of Main Street’s personnel resources), including our push to promote more community programming and drawing in folks who have historically lacked access to healthy, fresh foods. That said, if we discover that a merger would keep us from accomplishing our mission then we will not approve it.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. Please be aware that at this point we are still exploring creating the plan to merge and do not yet have all the answers or know what every piece would look like. This is because many of the specifics still need to be discussed and worked out.
So here’s your chance to let us know what your concerns and questions are and what you hope we will consider as we embark on this exploration.
We want to hear from you. What are the questions you want answered? What would you like to see change and what do you need us to make sure stays the same?
The next meeting is Wednesday, September 17th at 7pm at the Water Pollution Control Lab (6543 N Burlington).