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Carole Gallegos, hired as the farmers market’s manager in 2004, has been replaced by Melody Dosch, who opened nearby on Ventura Boulevard.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

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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