Controversy surrounding Collier farmers market may be winding down

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COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- The controversy surrounding farmers markets in Collier County appears to be settling down. Tuesday, commissioners discussed what vendors can sell.

Earlier this year, the controversy surrounding the farmers market at the Golden Gate Community Center seemed never-ending. At one point, commissioners voted to close the market temporarily, saying it took away from local businesses.

Commissioner Tom Henning then came under fire after using the word gypsies while discussing the market.

Joey Rakow, the manager of the market, said from that moment on he’s been watching commissioners closely for their next move. On Tuesday, he was able to breathe a little deeper after commissioners barely changed any of their rules.

“Oh, I’m very surprised,” said Rakow. “I didn’t expect this.”

Commissioners said they would like to ban selling fireworks or guns at the market, which Rakow says doesn’t affect his vendors.

They also want to change the names of farmers markets to “community markets.”  This would allow almost anything to be sold there. Plus, commissioners may allow longer-term leases.

“I’m also happy they’re allowing to extend the market for over a year,” said Rakow.

The major direction the board gave to county staff was to look at how the state regulates prepared foods. But, commissioners never said they wanted to ban them, giving Rakow the feeling this once controversial topic, isn’t so controversial anymore.

“I’m happy to tell my vendors on Saturday that they’re safe and can continue to operate,” said Rakow.

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