Thank you so much to each and every one of you for your generosity. Just 2 weeks into this "helping hand" campaign and we're almost to 10% of our goal!
Unfortunately, what we all feared would happen, has happened. The Columbia County Planning Commission -- despite the massive amount of support behind it -- has denied the Conditional Use Permit language that would have allowed the Monteillets to continue selling their product from their farm.
What this means is their legal battle is going to have to continue - so we need to continue spreading the word to help them out. If you haven't, please forward this link to everyone you know who might care about small farmers fighting a big fight; it sets a precedence for us all.
Joan and Pierre-Louis Monteillet are the hardest working people I have ever met. For a living, they lovingly manage Monteillet Fromagerie, one of the most endearing, most-visited, and most talked-about destinations in all of Eastern Washington. They've been featured in Sunset Magazine, on NPR, and even in Vogue magazine. They have a love story for the ages. As friends and neighbors, they have -- knowing or unknowingly -- nurtured diverse friendships, inspired budding small businesses, and kick-started economic development in a small town gasping its last breath...and beyond.
For the last year, the Monteillet's have been fighting a not-so-quiet battle with Columbia County over zoning issues. Having been in business there for over 14 years, then suddenly being shut down - and even threatened with jail time - must be frightening on so many levels. What's more frightening are the zoning issues this struggling county is attempting to impose - that ag-based businesses can not sell directly to consumers on their own property. I, along with many others, attended a recent meeting of the Columbia County planning committee and we saw for ourselves what the Monteillet's are up against - and it was sad (Here is the video of the proceedings. It is long but be sure to watch the last 5-10 minutes).
It sounds like a joke but it is not -- Fly the flag and tell people to live the American dream, but when they do, and they do it well, let's shut them -- and other farmers and artisans -- down?
Joan and Pierre-Louis have exhausted their life savings and, literally, "bet the farm" against these ridiculous attacks. They've paid to the tune of $50,000. They have given us all so much over the years, can we chip in to get it back and help them fight for their rights?
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