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Farmers Market Eyes 'Change in Direction,' Fires Manager

Market's board members say they want more variety in produce and products. Some early organizers of the weekly event question the actions.

Saying they want to take the in a new direction, the market’s board of directors has fired the woman who managed the Sunday event on Ventura Place for seven years, bringing it recognition as one of the best of its kind in Los Angeles.

Carole Gallegos, hired as the farmers market’s manager in 2004, has been replaced by Melody Dosch, who opened nearby on Ventura Boulevard.

“We want a change in direction for the Studio City Farmers Market,” said Dosch, whose family has now taken charge of the Cheese Gallery. “We want to take a more hands-on management approach and get the community more involved with the farmers market.

 “We have no concerns about what Carole did, and this has nothing to do with her personally," Dosch said. "We just wanted to have more control over who the vendors were.”

Before Dosch became the new manager, she was the Chamber of Commerce representative on the board of the nonprofit farmers market, which is owned and operated by the Chamber and the Studio City Residents Association.

“Melody’s background as a cheese producer and her involvement in how to run a restaurant is all something she brings to the job,” said Art Howard, who has represented the Residents Association on the board since the inception of the farmers market, and is still on the board. He said that several applicants were interviewed for the manager job. “We expect that she will make the farmers market even more successful.”

Gallegos said she worked 25 to 30 hours a week as the farmers market’s manager, brought in new vendors and tripled sales.

“I was always out there, rain or shine,” Gallegos said.

While she was manager, Los Angeles Magazine named the Studio City Farmers Market the “Most Kid-Friendly Market” in Los Angeles in 2008, and Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect website named it the “Parents Pick” winner in 2009 for favorite Los Angeles farmers market. In February, the Los Angeles Times called it “one of the two or three best farmers markets in the San Fernando Valley.”

“Everyone says I have done such a great job,” said Gallegos, who also manages the Sherman Oaks Community Farmers Market which will have its grand opening Saturday, April 2, and run every  Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sepulveda Boulevard and Camarillo by the Galleria. “Why then was I fired? What did I do wrong?”

Howard and Dosch said the market’s board wants to bring in vendors who will provide a greater variety of produce and products. Howard said he wanted local restaurants to buy from the market as well, and that they would do that if offered more organic choices.

"We can’t get a pumpkin radish,” Howard said. “We want more amounts of  items.”

“We want it to be less pedestrian as far as what we have to offer,” Dosch said. “We want the produce to be more exotic. We want there to be more different colors.”

Howard also said the board wants to have maps handed out on each end of the 880-foot street to let people know where the vendors are and what they offer.

Dosch said she spoke to every vendor about the management change and also sent each a letter. “I tried to assuage the fears of a couple of vendors and to tell them that nothing is different,” she said. “We want them all to stay. . . . We have really conscientious farmers and we want to keep it that way.”

One thing that can’t be changed is the space devoted to the market. It was once proposed that the market would expand to include Radford Avenue from Ventura Boulevard to the entrance of the CBS Studio Center.

“Once it was single-family homes there; now it’s all apartment complexes, and we can’t make it any more difficult for the residents to get in and out of that area,” Howard said. “So, no, we won’t be expanding that way.”

Some former farmers market organizers said they were surprised by the firing of Gallegos, and they questioned the change in direction being sought by the board.

“I’m completely baffled by this,” said Bruce Neckels, who served on the Farmers Market Association Board for eight years and was part of the team that hired Gallegos. “The vendors always loved Carole, and she made sure everything was in compliance with the codes, and she made sure everything was done right.”

Neckels, who was also the Studio City Chamber of Commerce president for two years, added, “I think everything has been fine, I do not know what direction they want to go in, but this could be a big mistake.”

Allen Ravert, the businessman credited with bringing the farmers market idea to Studio City in 1998,  said: “I think the vendors should be worried. I’m not sure the board of directors knows how to run a farmers market. I hope they don’t ruin it.”

Ravert runs the Studio City Shopping Center area across Laurel Canyon Boulevard from the farmers market, and co-owns and both on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.

“I hired Carole Gallegos as the manager of the market, and she knows how to run a business,” Ravert said.

The board is made up of the and the Foundation. Dosch was a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, and Howard was a representative of the Residents Association. When Dosch stepped down from the board to manage the farmers market, Carole Zide of took her position until a full-time replacement can be selected. Meanwhile, Resident Association president Alan Dymond and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Esther Walker were involved in the new changes.

Dymond was on his way out of town, and referred questions to Howard, who said he couldn’t discuss specifics about the private nonprofit group that shares money with the residents association and community groups.

Sources who have asked to remain anonymous said the Studio City Farmers Market now generates about $280,000 in revenue a year. That would seem to confirm Gallegos’ claim that she more than tripled the income during her term. The 2009 tax records show that the Studio City Farmers Market reported an income of $77,060.  Two other sources said that Gallegos was earning about $26,000 a year for running the farmers market.

This year, the farmers market awarded its largest single grant of $15,000 to , started by students and teachers at, and it also has doled out money to the (a branch of the Residents Association) and other school and community projects, Howard and Dosch said.

"We're looking forward to being more open and involving the community more in the farmers market," Howard said.

Judy Morr March 31, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Judy I have been frequenting this market for many years and I have never seen any of the board members volunteering on Sunday. The growth in income for the market proves how much enthusiastic community support there is for it. It doesn't make sense to me to say you are going to keep all the existing vendors and fit in new vendors with exotic instead of "pedestrian" produce when you stated you don't have any room to expand. Seems to me that Ms. Dosch was desperately in need of a job and found one.
jeff friedman March 31, 2011 at 06:17 AM
Jeff The Studio City Chamber of Commerce does not have a clue what they are doing. As a Farmers Market Manager, I know what is involved in operating a professional Farmers Market. Carole is one of the best Market Managers in Southern California. I believe the changes are completely political, and the market will suffer greatly by their actions. Shame on the Studio City Chamber of Commerce. You are heading toward the abyss.
C. Weitz March 31, 2011 at 07:37 AM
This is unbelievable...Studio City has been the best Farmers Market in the Valley hands down....a lot of good choices and different options...especially organic and Grass Feed Beef as well....very consistent and open pretty much all year long come rain or shine....one things clear..Carole is very personable, has great knowledge and obviously knows what she's doing...who cares about more colors and varieties...really..isn't the Farmers Market suppose to be seasonal and locally grown....??? exotic ..oh common....you can get that in any grocery store ...what i want most is organic and in season and local grown fruits and vegetables....well thanks Carole at least you give me an other option i guess from now hence i'll be shopping at the Farmers Market in Sherman Oaks Galleria...and good luck to Studio City hope you won't live to regret it.....:-((((
C. Weitz March 31, 2011 at 07:42 AM
PS.. i do live walking distance....and the Artisan Cheese Gallery is a joke.....went once in there and never again...i'm native to one of the greatest cheese countries....and this place is well overpriced and can't even scratch the surface compared to a place like Whole Foods.....??
scottish Gerry March 31, 2011 at 08:32 AM
Scottish Gerry I live in Hollywood and frequented the hollywood farmers market with my family for years, until I made a visit to the studio city farmers market. I was fortunate enough to need assistance with product placement and subsequently met Ms Gallegos, and through her kindness and help enjoyed the experience so much we now travel over the hill regularly to shop at the market.This in a huge part is due to the delight of seeing Ms gallegos,s radiant smile lovely accent. We also attend the christmas parade on ventura blvd to watch her on her beautiful horse as do many of my fellow shoppers , she remembers everyone by name and goes out of her way to enquire after our family,s health and well being She will be a tremendous loss to the market and I for one will be back on ivar .
Yvette Kaplan March 31, 2011 at 03:22 PM
To second Scottish Gerry, I lived on "the other side of the hill" when I first moved here from NY, and though much closer to Hollywood, I too made a point of coming to Studio City because of the wonderful vibe and great offerings. When I moved to Noho three years ago I was thrilled for the proximity and have been there every weekend without fail. But ironically, two weeks ago, thanks to various foodie columns I felt I absolutely "needed" pea-shoots. My fave SCFM vendor has wonderful pea-sprouts, but not shoots. So I trekked to Hollywood in search. And while I may have oohed and ahhed over the exotic delicacies for a little while, soon I was longing for my familiar vendors. Yes, I found my pea-shoots. And freshly shucked oysters IF I wanted them! But where was my wild arugula? The only one I could find was over-priced, pre-bagged and yellowing, yet the bags were flying off the table despite the yellow leaves. I shrugged, grabbed a bag, paid and left, promising myself that I'd never miss my Studio City Sunday again. Yes, the pea shoots were delicious. But the arugula was thrown away in dismay, two days later, too yellow to eat, as was a Hollywood bunch of watercress. The grass is not always greener, and neither is the produce. Studio City should be careful what it wishes for.
Karen Young March 31, 2011 at 03:36 PM
I do not know what happened with the changes at the Farmer's Market, but what do know is that I don't understand the nasty nature of some of these comments against a fellow human being. I see a great deal of this happening on these Patch pages in various article comment sections. Does anyone really know the facts or is it just hearsay? The world is troubled enough. Can't we show a little humanity right here in community? Are personal really attacks necessary?
Joe Goodman March 31, 2011 at 04:53 PM
I agree with Karen. Let's not be nasty. So the big question is... Did Carol do a good job running the market and did she deserve to be fired? I think she was great. Clearly the Studio City farmer's market had been wonderful. It has been loaded with great people, a fantastic variety of food and a fun Sunday experience. Carol has always been part of a warm Sunday "Hello"... I know of at least five former Presidents of the Studio City Chamber of Commerce, including myself, who agree. And they are asking the question "exactly what happened here?"
Valley Guy March 31, 2011 at 06:31 PM
I posted earlier regarding this article and was critical of the board's decision. Yes, I don't have all the "facts" in the case, but seeing how the article quoted the Dosch as saying; " “We want to take a more hands-on management approach and get the community more involved with the farmers market" well, you have gotten the community involved and we say leave things the way they are. If you were truly concerned about the community, then you would have suggested that Carole add a suggestion box where patrons could voice their ideas and opinions about what the market might be lacking in. As far as having "more control as to who the vendors are", why doesnn't the board have a conversation with Carole and express their desire to have "more control". And finally, regarding this statement; "We're looking forward to being more open and involving the community more in the farmers market," Howard said.' Well all I can say is I hope Mr Howard reads these comments. Maybe he can extrapolate and realize what the community is saying.
Steffi Gaines March 31, 2011 at 10:56 PM
I have been visiting the Studio ity Farmers Market for about 6yrs. It has grown into the most friendly and fun Sundays. There are great vendor and I spend way to much money. I believe what makes this market so great is Carol and Steve wonderful and inclusiveness. They are always introducing customers and vendors to each other always with a great smil and a laugh(with that british accent). I can't imagine being there without them. Greg is great as well. What a team and not it is gone. If this is now going to be manage by Melody Dosch, who is a board member, is this legal? When I worked in non-profit I never saw a board member work as an employee. I did not think this was allowed. Where is the accountability? When I was there on this past Sunday, it sure did not feel friendly.
D.L April 01, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I visit the market every week. Many of the vendors carry the same items as Trader Joes. I would love to see more interesting produce. I hope to see more entertainment by local school groups and entertainers not just street musicians. More shaded seating and yes get rid of all the plastic ! More local artists and craft venders!
Andrew Lepore April 01, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Hello My name is Andrew Lepore I work at North hollywood High School as a Landsacpe teacher. Carole Gallegos helped us dearly when want to go to the farmers market to promot or Ag Area that we are trying to safe from LAUSD take down our barn. She helped us so much with giving us a space for our students to talk to people about our ag department. To hear her being fired is an outrage and wrong. She is a hard working person and didnt deserve to get fired.
Jack McGrath April 01, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Come join Carol Gallegos in a public rally to support her reinstatement as manager of the Studio City Farmer's market. It will be held on Sunday, April 10, at 11:00 AM at the Studio City Hand Car Wash, located at 11514 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. Scheduled to speak are longtime backers and former presidents of the SC Chamber, Joe Goodman, Jack McGrath, and Bruce Neckels- and of course Ms. Farmer's Market- Carol Gallegos. Please pass on this communication to any and all who have loved and been proud of the fine work of Carol Gallegos, who has worked so hard for the past seven years in Studio City. Email SCHCarwash@aol.com for further information.
Allan April 01, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Grand Opening April 2, 2011 of the new Sherman Oaks Farmer's Market. Cal Certified Farmer's Market. Saturdays from 8.00 am to 1 pm. Corner Sepulveda & Camarillo, just south of 101 Fwy. Plenty of parking at the venue. Sponsored by the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce
Marlena April 02, 2011 at 12:06 AM
It's interesting that this seems to be a trend in our United States, decisions being made on behalf of us, by people who do not know what we want or need. We must act, and quickly. Voice your opinions to those involved, and let them know, in person, that you won't be represented this way. It's your farmers market, you support it, so take it back!
Carole Gallegos April 02, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone that came out to the opening day of the Sherman Oaks Community Farmers Market, especially my loyal customers from Studio City. You all made the opening day very special. Thank you for the support. Look out for more new vendors next week and in the near future. Hope to see you again next Saturday from 8am to 1pm.
Mike Szymanski April 03, 2011 at 12:09 AM
You beat me to the punch Carole...check out the story... http://patch.com/A-gvl1
Allan April 03, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Carole may I just say a big thank you for the outstanding job done on our opening day. I as usual always worry about a first time event. I thought thought the turnout was fantastic for a first time. I watched as the parking lot filled and for a good portion stayed filled. I love the comments that they thought the vendors were superb and how easy it was to park. Thanks again for a job well done.
Susan Haymer April 03, 2011 at 04:49 PM
I am very sad to learn that Carole will no longer be running the Studio City Farmers Market. She did an excellent job. I love the vibe and always found what I needed. This feels like a power play. I hope community indignation will bring Carole back to a job that she did so well.
Yvette Kaplan April 03, 2011 at 05:10 PM
With all respect Debra, I'm a huge Trader Joe's fan. But with rare exception, all their fruits and vegetables, except for apples and bananas, are packaged. Good in a pinch, but no comparison. And personally, the last thing I want or need at a Farmer's Market is more arts and crafts. I prefer my choice of galleries and shops for those. Entertainment is a nice touch, but it can be reliably enjoyed at many other venues. I come to a Farmer's Market for the edibles that farmer's farm. And that has been at Studio City in abundance.
Stu Miller April 03, 2011 at 05:33 PM
I find it interesting and telling that, to date, there's not a single word of explanation or concern on the part of Art Howard, Melody Dosch or anyone responsible for this festering issue. Interesting, but not surprising. They actually think they know better than everyone else about what's best for our community and, therefore, have no accountability for their mistakes.
snowglobe April 05, 2011 at 08:54 PM
I have to agree - I love to support Studio City businesses, but the service and attitude at Artisan Cheese is a complete turnoff. If the new Farmer's Market manager brings the same poor practices to the Market, she's going to ruin it.
Stu Miller April 09, 2011 at 05:23 AM
Interesting questions raised by Lois Westphal. Where DID all that money go? Wouldn't it be nice to see a financial statement from the Market? And wouldn't it be even nicer to hear an explanation from Art Howard about his rationale for this action, followed by an apology and the re-hiring of Carole? And then followed by his own resignation from anything to do with the Market? Just asking...
Carole Gallegos April 17, 2011 at 04:52 AM
I will be attending the Studio City Neighborhood Council meeting on Wednesday, April 20 @ 6:30PM speaking during the public comment part of the meeting. For the past 7 years the City of L.A. was very supportive of the farmer's market. I was most proud to be able to increase the gross sales of the market over 300% during my tenure as manager. We brought in organic fruits and vegetables, Grass fed beef, fresh fish and a wide array of unique food products. The Los Angeles Times in an article called our market one of the best markets in the San Fernando Valley. For seven years, I worked hard and loved my job. With my termination, for no just cause, I feel extremely disappointed with the unfair treatment by the representatives of the Studio City Chamber and Studio City Resident's Association. Those who made this decision never volunteered their time at the market and have no knowledge of how a farmers market operates. Coming from England, I always believed that in America, if you worked hard you would be rewarded for your success and hard work - not fired. I am now working with the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce at a new Saturday Farmer's Market. We are located at the corner of Sepulveda and Camarillo in Sherman Oaks, just north of the Galleria. We have tons of free parking right at the Farmer's Market. I invite all of my Studio City customers to come over and say hello, and shop at our new market.
Valley Guy April 23, 2011 at 08:36 PM
I stopped by the Studio City Market last week to see if any changes had taken place since all the brew-ha-ha had transpired. The one thing I noticed was that there was a harpist playing but no steel drum player. Big mistake! The harp is completely out of it's element at a farmer's market and the mellow classical music on a sunday morning feels more like church than a market place. Is the steel drum player gone? If that's an indication of the new direction, well, I say; "no thanks".
JAN KELLEY May 09, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Somehow I missed the news about Carole Gallegos until a couple of weeks ago, and I was certainly shocked to read about it then! I had noticed the empty spaces at the SC Market but did not know why. Now that I have been filled in on the details, I just want to say that I hope I see my favorite vendors at the Sherman Oaks market on Saturdays, because I don't think I'll be back to the Studio City market until Carole is reinstalled there with a big official apology from the incompetents who fired her.
June Dyer May 28, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Artisanal Cheese shop is TERRIBLE - As a cheese connoisseur, I went in last week, spent a lot of money, and decided never to return because of the truly horrible attitudes and lack of professionalism and graciousness of the owners and staff. Really bad. And this is who is now running the Studio City Farmer's Market instead of Carol? GOODBYE, SCFM. Hello, Sherman Oaks.
Ziggy Sirjack January 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM
I think it's funny that the cheese lady thinks she can run a completely different business. If you're telling vendors nothing will change... then why is a change being made? Sounds like the cheese lady would like Carole's $26,000 per year. It's lovely to see that power corrupts at every level, even a Farmer's market. Carol takes years to build up this enterprise, but now a handful of disloyal and self serving people pull a coup, and get away with it. Couldn't Carol have been asked to incorporate the changes these pompous board members wanted? "Hey Carol, can you bring in some more exotic vegetable growers because our phones have been ringing off the hook for different types of radishes?" I'm so glad that a woman who has built up this community enterprise from nothing is having her livelihood taken away.Nice. Let me tell you where I won't be buying my cheese. Hint: It's a Really arrogant and self serving store owner helping herself. Newsfalsh... you can only grow a local farmer's market as big as the space available and population allows.
Ziggy Sirjack January 10, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Come on Karen, really? The comments on the Patch are too tough for you? Hysterical. Only in Los Angeles. If this issue comes under the heading of a troubled world acting with humanity then your life is truly blessed... and by blessed I mean sheltered. Make sure you don't ever leave your culdesac because the world must be a scary place for you, especially when people honk their horns, or cross the street against a red light. But when you do leave your Pollyanna world, just know that you care more, understand what's decent behavior better, and are a truly more understanding than the rest of us slobs.
Sheri Haas January 10, 2013 at 04:39 PM
You are replying to an article from 2011. But in any event I agree the market is not one to frequent very often. I have gone for many years but tapered off around 2 years ago because good vendors are gone and some new ones are not up to par with what I have come to expect at such a market, way too qmany in your face solicitors and too many junk sellers. Sounds like a good idea lost to in fighting and politics. Too bad.

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