The FarmBoat Floating Market aboard the historic steamship Virginia V at Lake Union Park will not be opening for the 2014 season. FarmBoat founders remain caught up in false accusations of violating employment laws. New City of Seattle “get-tough-on-employers” policies have made it nearly impossible to operate the community farmers market without risk of severe sanctions steaming from a 2012 market merchant who racked up thousands of dollars in unrelated parking tickets a decade earlier.
The City Finance department determined that independent merchants who participate at the Floating Farmer’s Market each week are employees and subject to the City’s rigid new employment regulations–including being fair game for parasitic parking ticket garnishments by the Seattle Municipal Court.
The FarmBoat Floating Market program at Lake Union Park was never intended to be an employment opportunity for farmers. Rather, it was like other farmer’s markets around the City where independent vendors gathered together to sell goods to the public.
We are disappointed that Seattle officials have taken such a heavy-handed stance against the FarmBoat Floating Market concept but we also recognize that it is a sign of the times in a City that is fixated on becoming a mecca for progressive policies aimed at transitioning from free market capitalism to a new brand of corporate-sponsored socialism.
The FarmBoat community program was run by the Urban Public Waterfront Association, a Washington nonprofit dedicated to connecting people with the sea. Also affected by adverse City actions is the “Seattle Taco Boat“, and the City’s only honor-box produce stand at South Lake Union–a farmer-direct program many local residents will miss.