For the first time in more than a dozen years, Parsons Farms Produce in Dagsboro won’t be a vendor at the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market, which opened on June 7 for the 2020 season.
It came as a surprise to Paul Parsons, who said he wasn’t notified, but learned he wouldn’t be among those selling ripe and tempting goods on opening day on Garfield Parkway after he called a member of the market’s board of directors and asked about required paperwork for the 2020 season.
He was told his business wasn’t being invited back.
“There was nothing in writing. Just verbally. I was shocked and surprised. I was like, ‘Well, maybe I can talk to some other board members to try to get an answer,’” he said.
But the response, he said, was that neither town officials nor the Delaware Department of Agriculture have authority to make changes to individual markets and the Bethany market’s bylaws had been revised.
Doug Mowrey, president of the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market, refused to comment on the issue this week, telling Coastal Point only, “It’s not for discussion.”
“I’ve been there 13 years,” said Parsons, whose family has been in the farming business about 100 years and for several generations.
Described on the website as offering a unique experience for families, Parsons offers “u-pick” options for those who like to pluck berries off the vine and pre-picked goods ready to go, as well as a bakery, ice cream shop and “Goat Mountain.”
“Kids love to stop by Parsons Farms to feed and pet the animals, and enjoy the simplicity of farm life,” their website states.
In business since 1989, and owner of the Dagsboro market since 2008, Parsons said he wanted to take that spirit back to this year’s farmers’ market, but found it confusing that all towns that have markets are supposed to be governed by the state, yet their rules and guidelines vary.
Not being in the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market this year will mean financial loss, but Parsons said he didn’t want to “put a dollar figure on it.”
“It’s like the farmers’ market is a racket, a power-trip. I just wish they would have given me a reason. ... The board of directors makes the decision, and they said they don’t have to give me a reason why,” he said.
“I was involved in the planning from the beginning. We were inaugural members, but there have been private board meetings. We don’t know what the motive is. We’re as shocked as anybody else,” he said.
“We were the biggest vendor in the market. We started off with strawberries, then went to apples. They kicked the largest vendor in the market out and created monopolies with other vendors. But I’m doing a lot of great things up here at this market in the town of Dagsboro. We will be at the farmers’ market in Lewes, and the new ones in Millsboro and Ocean City this year,” he said.
“I am extremely disappointed, but I’m trying to stay positive.”