Hits, misses in planning for combined Farm Walk and Topanga Vintage Market

The Los Angeles Pierce College Farm Walk and Topanga Vintage Market will share the campus on April 27, but running both events on the same day is causing confusion about parking, security and costs.

Parking and shuttle buses

Dr. Leland Shapiro, chair of agriculture, is under the assumption that they’re going to have market parking on the other side of campus and the Foundation for Pierce College will finance shuttles.

“When they asked me if we could do the same [day] I said, ‘Well, I need parking Lot 7 for me,’” Shapiro said.

Foundation Financial Manager Kathy Zanghi agrees there will be shuttle buses to help with parking, but disagrees with where visitors park.

 “First come – first served,” Zanghi said.

Floriya Borzenkova, the senior program director for the Foundation, said they were planning to make market patrons park in Lot 1 but said they cannot control where someone parks their car.

“We just have to put some signs up that say, ‘Additional parking this way. Shuttle buses available,’” she said.

Topanga Vintage Market cofounder Lori Wolf Rotblatt said she wasn’t comfortable telling her patrons they might be shuttled from a parking lot to the market.

“The shuttle idea is not our idea,” she said. “At this point we will follow.”

Health and safety

Organizers agree the cost of security is higher because officials are being cautious.

“Last year I paid $750 for sheriffs. Now they want to charge me $2,200 and I don’t have any money,” Shapiro said.

But the Foundation maintains that the Agriculture Department is raising money and can therefore pay.

“The new procedures, according to the [Los Angeles Community College District], is that everybody that does anything has to pay,” Zanghi said.

Shapiro said the sheriffs are hired here anyway, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

“We have a contract with them,” he said. “Why am I paying for time and a half for seven hours of security for a fundraiser for the college? It doesn’t make sense.”

Zanghi said Paul Nieman, director of Facilities at Pierce is responsible for the [Farm Walk] security and they’re going to have volunteers with radios tuned in with the sheriffs.

“They’re worried — I understand. I’m not knocking that down because I want everybody to be safe. But it should be paid for by the college, not my department,” Shapiro said.

Money raised and spent

Shapiro said all the volunteer workers at Farm Walk have meetings every month for a whole year to put it on.

“None of us get paid for that,” he said. “I have to pay toilets, tables, chairs, tents, sheriff – before we make any money for the farm – it’s going to cost me six grand. If no one shows up, I still pay six grand.”

Shapiro said all the profit goes back to buy seed for the pastures, fertilizer for the pastures, feed for the animals, equipment for irrigation. Everything is for the farm.

“The event does provide solid funding to cover some of the current costs in the [agriculture] operations,” said Rolf Schleicher, vice president of Administration.

Schleicher said the college fully supports the farm, but that a viable farm requires “comprehensive planning and diligent execution” of plans by Shapiro.

“It’s up to Lee how he wants to figure all that stuff out,” Zanghi said. “Lee does things Lee’s way and that’s fine. He’s really good at doing it.”

Mutual goals

It appears there are gaps in expectations and communication between the groups and administration.

“This is the first that I’m realizing it’s on the same day,” said Nieman, who is in charge of security for the Farm Walk.

There is still time to work out the kinks in security, parking and cost sharing and the groups have expressed many common goals. Borzenkova said the Foundation is going to distribute Farm Walk flyers at the March 25 Vintage Market so patrons know the next event occurs simultaneously.

“Everybody wants to work together,” Zanghi said. “It should be a good opportunity for both because if somebody comes to the Vintage Market they might go home and get their kids and come back to the Farm Walk.”

Nieman said what the college wants to accomplish is to show that Farm Walk is not just about the Agriculture Department.

“This is something that the entire college has an opportunity to showcase what they do,” he said.

Event information is available on their websites, www.facebook.com/pages/Pierce-College-Farm-Walk/ and www.topangavintagemarket.com.