Miguel no longer gets treats from the vendors at the Farmers’ Market.
That’s because Miguel’s owner, Jef Norton, was asked to remove the
4-year-old macaw from the premises by market manager Carolyn Hill,
who approached Norton on April 5 after noticing the brightly colored
bird perched on his shoulder.
“I told him that, unfortunately, the health department does not
allow us to have birds on the property,” said Hill, referring to a
California Uniform Retail Food Facilities code.
According to that code, no live animal, bird or fowl shall be kept
in a food facility.
But the way Norton sees it, the weekly outdoor venue cannot be
considered a retail food establishment. After all, he said, pigeons
routinely strut and fly in the vicinity of the Farmers’ Market.
“It used to be Miguel came with me to the Farmers’ Market once a
month, and he had a great time,” Norton said. “It’s no longer fun for
me to go ... because I can’t bring my bird with me.”
Norton added that vendors routinely gave Miguel bits of fruits and
vegetables, and enjoyed seeing him on the premises.
Hill, though, disputes that claim. She said vendors are nervous
about having a bird on the premises because of the potential for the
Exotic Newcastle’s Disease. Vendors could carry the disease -- a
virus that causes pneumonia and encephalomyelitis in birds -- back to
their farms through dust on their tires, she said.
The virus has a potentially devastating effect on commercial
poultry operations. An outbreak of the disease occurred in Southern
California as recently as fall 2002.
“If I were [Norton],” Hill said, “I would not want my bird out in
public with this Newcastle’s disease going on.”
The 21-year-old outdoor market is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every
Saturday on a city-owned parking lot bordered by Palm Avenue, Orange
Grove Avenue and 3rd Street. The city and the Redevelopment Agency
jointly lease the lot to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, which
sponsors the market.
Because it is licensed by the county Health Department, Hill said
the market must adhere to state codes and post signs to keep out
animals. Hill admitted that signs at the market have not always been
Terrance Powell, coordinator of the farmers’ market program for
the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said it isn’t
always convenient for markets to post signs.
The signs provided by the county are 9 inches by 6 inches,
suitable for placement in store windows, Powell said. He added that
open-air markets require larger signs at each entrance, making it the
responsibility of market managers to have the signs created and
But if a market hasn’t had any problems with animals on the
premises, Powell said that the county won’t insist that signs be
Markets that do not enforce the law, however, can be cited by the
county, have their licenses suspended and be forced to close, Powell