Healthy Family Farms to Stay at Farmers Market

Court documents allege vendor Sharon Palmer was buying thousands of dollars worth of meat, poultry and eggs from other vendors and reselling it as her own.

will not be suspended from the , Market Manager Greta Dunlap told Patch Friday.

“There is no violation of our market rules. As long as I have been managing, they have not sold raw milk in the market or raw milk products,” said Dunlap, who also manages the Beverly Hills Farmers Market. 

HFF owner Sharon Palmer stemming from the alleged illegal production and sale of unpasteurized goat milk, goat cheese and other products, the Los Angeles County District Attorney reported. Prosecutors allege she has operated without any type of license or permit for milk production since 2007.

L.A. County District Attorney court documents also allege that Palmer—who sells eggs and poultry through Healthy Family Farms every Thursday at the — "was buying thousands of dollars worth of meat, poultry and eggs from other vendors and reselling it at farmer's markets and at Rawesome, despite claims and advertising that it was raised on her farm and not fed commercial feed." 

To view the court documents cited, click on the PDFs to your right. 

To read more about the investigation, click here. 

Since the charges were filed, at her arraignment Wednesday and was released on bail, according to her attorney Matt Bromund.

Dunlap says farmers have to have proper paperwork in order to participate in farmers markets.  

“I also make site visits to farms to not only ensure production, but to learn more about the process,” she said. “Farming is not easy.”

Thursday's Market

At the Thursday, HFF maintained its regular presence with a stand selling eggs, poultry and meat.

"Always grass-fed, free-range, fresh and delicious!" the vendor's sign reads. 

According to stand attendant Carlos, who declined to give his full name, HFF has no plans to leave the South Pas Farmers Market any time soon.

“People are being supportive, and we’ve not had any complaints,” he said.

Business owner Jennifer Smith buys large amounts of products from the South Pasadena Farmers Market every week—including several dozen eggs from HFF— to supply her Pasadena-based shop, The Market on Holly. Smith told Patch she trusts the company—even after hearing of the allegations.

An investor in HFF, who spoke to Patch on condition of anonymity, said he is disappointed that area farmers markets are not more concerned with these allegations against the farm.

“I just feel that it's unfortunate that so many people are buying food that they believe to be organic and healthy and raised on a healthy farm when in reality they can go to Ralphs and get the same product at a lot less price,” he told Patch in June. (The allegations do not include accusations that Healthly Family Farms is reselling supermarket food as organic.)

“It seems to me the farmers markets are not doing their jobs to allow this to go on,” he continued. “They've been warned over and over again by other people—yet it continues.”

Some raw food enthusiasts are so angry with HFF, they have even created a website to spread their message about the farm: Unhealthy Family Farm.

"The people behind this negativity have never been to our farm. The photos were taken out of context," Palmer wrote in an email to Patch in May. "I just recently had a court order issued for these people to [cease] and [desist] for [libelous] and slanderous remarks."

Past Allegations

This isn’t the first time Sharon Palmer and HFF have been charged for allegedly selling dairy products without a license or pasteurization. In December 2008, HFF was shut down by Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, reported the Ventura County Star.

Palmer addressed those charges, as well as a previous arrest related to transporting illegal immigrants, in a 2009 statement, according to The Complete Patient. 

“I believe in what I do. I will continue to support my community with healthy foods and always try to do my best,” Palmer wrote.

“These negative comments about my past issues have truly saddened me because the real issue is about our controlling government and poor commercial food choices. Small family farms need the public's support,” Palmer continued.

Palmer has declined to provide Patch with further comments since the DA investigation was announced. However, her attorney provided us with a statement in this article.

Two others were charged in the Aug. 3 criminal conspiracy case: Eugenie Bloch, 58, and James Stewart, 64.

Palmer—along with the other defendants—are expected back in court at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 6 in Dept. 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Jones Foyer August 15, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Misleading customers is a pretty bad foul, I certainly would not patronize them.
Richard August 16, 2011 at 01:32 AM
So the farmer's market manager Greta Dunlap says: “I also make site visits to farms to not only ensure production, but to learn more about the process,” Well Greta Dunlap, that makes you an accessory to the crime of FRAUD perpetrated on the customers at the farmers markets which you manage! Because you made a site visit to Healthy Family Farms, then you saw that there is absolutely no possible way that all the poultry, eggs and meats which they sell is grass-fed, free-range and produced on their property. Obviously you care more about protecting the fraudulent profits of these cheats than you do bout protecting farmer's market customers from FRAUD!
Kristen Lepore (Editor) August 16, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Hi Richard, I want to clarify: Although Greta Dunlap said she visits farms, she did not specify whether or not she has visited Healthy Family Farms in Santa Paula. I did ask her that question in an e-mail this weekend, yet she has not yet gotten back to me. I will let you know if any updates become available.
Richard August 16, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Thanks Kristin. Re Dunlap letting HFF continue to sell at the markets, Dunlap owes it to the market patrons to investigate these allegations thoroughly. If she hasn't yet inspected HFF, then she should do so immediately. For Dunlap to allow these HFF fraudsters to continue without an investigation is an outrage and also an insult to all the honest farmers who sell at the markets. And Kristin, we really appreciate your excellent coverage of this important story.
Annzella Victoria August 17, 2011 at 09:00 PM
I am happily an HFF-regular and I can tell you they are not "fraudsters," as you allege. If they were, there would not have been willing in the past to allow customers/consumers to visit the farm. United we stand; divided we fall. This who suit really is about getting healthy, nutritious food out of the marketplace so that we are all subject to grain fed, hormone laced, pesticide intoxicated meat and produce. The consumption of grass-fed animals has greatly aided in my weight-loss program, as has consuming raw dairy products. Do your own investigation and remember that gossip exists because humans speak without personal facts.
JoAnna August 18, 2011 at 12:49 AM
I tend to side--initially--with anyone who's trying to provide a raw or organic product because I'm aware of how hard the establishment works against them. However, I would encourage people to look at the evidence. There's plenty of documentation and pictures (hundreds of egg cartons in their dumpsters from another company that produces conventional eggs and photos of meat before it was repackaged as organic--to name a few) to confirm the fraud charges. After thoroughly reviewing all of it--I would not buy from this company.
anitadeby August 19, 2011 at 04:49 PM
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Kristen Papac August 20, 2011 at 11:19 PM
for anyone who wants a to look at the HFF farms issue throughly and ideas on what do do about it, please see my blog at http://farmmuckraker.blogspot.com I was throughly upset when I read Kristen's original article. I quickly learned what to do...share any suspicions of farm fraud with your market manager. I'm even going so far as volunteering with Diana, the FM manager of MarVista Sunday to form a committee to investigate farm fraud. There are plenty of good farmers out there, and like most professions, the rotten eggs. contact Diana directly if you are interested in helping. Keep pressure on the FM managers to investigate HFF fully.
Kristen Papac August 20, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Marvion August 21, 2011 at 01:59 AM
The south pasadena farmers' market should have never occurred. Detour it forever.
Elizabeth Short August 21, 2011 at 03:30 AM
Aren't you glad you'll be starting 7th grade in a few weeks?
JoAnna August 21, 2011 at 04:11 AM
Here's the link for the site that has the pictures and documents, etc. http://www.unhealthyfamilyfarm.com/evidence.html
Black Rock August 21, 2011 at 08:02 AM
Hi Kristen... First... thank you for your blog. Second... a little background... I am what I call a biodynamic permaculture farmer and have been farming this method for almost 25 years here with producing besides a diverse list of produce, fruit, meats, etc... several dozen free ranged, grass & bug feed, hand gathered, organic eggs a week, ever since shutting down here 25 years ago a factory farm egg laying operation that once produced a 1000 dozen eggs a day from 15000 layers on 13 month cycles... so I guess you can say I know the difference between caged layers and truely free ranged grass & bug feed eggs. Third... I agree with all of your concerns in this raid of Rawesomes and Healthy Family Farms. My questions are similar in that I can not see any evidence to prove that they could produce using the methods they CLAIM the amount of eggs they seemed to have SOLD. I would suspect that they would need at least 1200 to 1500 healthy layers, between the prime laying age of 20 weeks to 72 weeks of age, constantly being replaced and old ones disposed of, to meet their demand of a 2000 member buyers' club and a couple weekly farmers' markets. Now because of this, I have ...too be continued...
Black Rock August 21, 2011 at 08:03 AM
(continued) Sow many questions I have to ask, I could not ask them all here now. Just a couple for instance though... Where are the photos of the large green healthy grass pastures needed to maintain this size flock of most likely of around a 1000 or so chickens? The photos I see is of a place that should not even be called a farm. It looks more like a torture chamber for farm animals in a desert. ...and... Where are the healthy green pastures used to rotate the livestock raised there from birth to slaughter? ...again nothing I have seen so far. Just maybe a video produced by Healthy Family Farm giving us All a better picture of why we should believe the word we hear them say and write would surely HELP... until then, I am thinking this is a very sad situation because all I have seen is Emotions and not FACTS or Evidence otherwise. Please keep up your efforts to keep us Farmers Honest! ... and even the people that call themselves farmers and are not.
Black Rock August 21, 2011 at 09:41 AM
Looking at the photo of Healthy Family Farm's stand at the market, I am wondering how it is healthy to leave around 50 or so dozen eggs out of refrigeration, in what? 85 degree or more temperture, on a table to be eventually sold. Eggs are very fragile to temperture. Here is a quote from USDA... "Why should eggs be refrigerated? Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. With the concern about Salmonella, eggs gathered from laying hens should be refrigerated as soon as possible. After eggs are refrigerated, they need to stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the movement of bacteria into the egg and increasing the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than 2 hours." I guess it is buyer beware! ...get them early in the morning!
Kristen Papac August 21, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Kristen, Laura Avery of Santa Monica Farmer's Market told me she visited HFF when they first moved to this farm in Santa Paula from the one in Filmore. I am not sure when that was. So at least someone from So. Cal FM's has visited the farm. She also confirmed that HFF has 3,000 laying hens as of April, confirmed by VEntura Ag who I guess goes out there and counts them. So it seems, for now, that she produces her own eggs. As to the quality of their life, i.e. if they live on grass and pasture like they say they do is to be determined. Laura Avery said she will be visiting HFF again soon, and I hope she asks some serious questions.
Kristen Papac August 21, 2011 at 09:28 PM
@black rock. Do you have any information on your farm that I can look up online? I am very interested in speaking with you. Right now I have one farmer who is doing truly pastured eggs and I am going to interview him as to his farming practices. I am learning on the fly what questions should have been asked/answered a long time ago by HFF. I know that the farmer defrauded her clientelle once, as per what I wrote on my blog. That was outright outsourcing for Rawesome and not the markets, she claims. As for the quality of her hens and eggs now, I cannot speak to that until someone visits or HFF communicates to the public their farming practices in some authoritative way. For me, it is one thing to say your chickens are free range and entirely another to say they are truly pastured or "grass-fed". This is such a grey area in farmers markets now and the issue needs to be clarified, clearly.
Black Rock August 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM
Hi Kristen... It is difficult to fully address your questions here in this comment section. Mainly because it is not just an issue of how to raise truely pastured free ranged eggs as much as it is a question of how that little part fits into the total BALANCE of the Biodynamics of the farm. A farm is not just buildings, some fencing, vegetables, some livestock, a tractor or two and us the farmer creating agricutural systems to profit from, in my humble opnion. In fact they have very little to do with it in producing healthy food, let alone eggs. The most important part of it All is the things we can not easily see and the most important part of that is what we walk on, the Living Soil... http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/soil_biology/sbinfo.html ... and as farmers this is what we farm at the mercy of the wind, rain and sun. Now why I mention this first is because I did not see HEALTHY living soil if the photos I saw of Healthy Family Farms.
Black Rock August 23, 2011 at 10:35 AM
...now how do you raise, produce anything without healthy living soil? and secondly, no matter how, the more important question becomes how much is HEALTHY to produce? In other words, for a farm like Healthy Family Farm to find it's true balance with what it currently has, they may only be able to produce in eggs a few dozen a week. In order to produce more, they may have years of farming the soil to make it able to support a larger production of eggs. This is something they must determine. I do think that this is a problem with so much of today's modern agriculture. We believe we can do what we want and SURVIVE for the sake of profit alone by condensing too much into too small of a space with too little until we support it with outside artificial resources. It may have been much better for Rawesomes membership to find several farms, either existing or develop, like HFF to supply their current demand for eggs rather then trying to do the impossible to remain Healthy. ...as a side note... our eggs production here is a byproduct... our chickens first are a help with keeping in balance our insect population and they stir things up a bit to maintain a healthy living soil... the eggs are an added benefit. Some of our chickens are decedents of chickens we have had for decades. So we and our membership understand that sometimes eggs are scarce and at other times shared with the local food bank. It is all about balance between many diversities.
Black Rock August 24, 2011 at 07:49 AM
Hi Kristen... Finally to answer your first question about information online. I would think the best place to look for information on line is to start with our listing on Local Harvest. I mention this because we have had a listing on there since their beginning days of on-line networking of our C.S.A. which formally started in 1991. This would be 20 years of seeing the local food movement grow. Something that we must all help to do. That is not to say to try and capture that market, yet to help others farms and communities build strong local HEALTHY FOOD SYSTEMS, hopefully using Farming in a balanced way for living, working and relating to All of the diversity and relationships in nature. ...and again as a side note... we are not taking on any new C.S.A. membership at this time because we can not sacrifice the balance we have. We do maintain this listing to network and pass on individuals within our area with other farms. Just as of yesterday, I referred someone's email looking to find a source of local food to another local farm. This to me is what it is about, balance. I would encourage everyone to use online resources such as local harvest and as to what this whole issue is about in this article and your blog you, go to the source, the farm, of your local area and see it is what you wish to eat and if not, get your hands dirty and make it so... ...anyways... here is a start for you to look for us on-line, that is All of us... http://www.localharvest.org/organic-farms/
Black Rock August 25, 2011 at 06:28 PM
@Kristen Papac... you mention in your comment that HFF has 3000 layers as of April as verified or confirmed by Ventura Ag... and you comment and I quote, "So it seems, for now, that she produces her own eggs" ... ok... so I'll add... let me do a reality CHECK... Show me one photo of 3000 chickens at HFF? PLEASE?... and here is reality... 3000 chickens PRODUCE about 5 TONS of manure a month, times 12 months... equals 60 tons of Chicken Manure a year... Do you know how much space it takes to house 3000 grass feed layers and what 60 tons of Chicken Manure looks like? Even 5 tons? You times that for all of the months they were suppose to have thousands of chickens... please! Think... please show us one photo of HFF's 3000 chickens? Show us a picture of 3000 Happy Healthy Chickens grazing on healthy living grass on a healthy living pasture with plenty of healthy fresh WATER and sound vermit proof housing to protect them in the night? Please? ...and finally, what is HFF mortality rate for their 3000 chickens? 10% a week? 20% a week? What? What do they do with those HUNDREDS of DEAD Chickens?
Black Rock August 25, 2011 at 06:29 PM
What about their meat chickens they sell? How many more chickens do they have? Where? ...since you can't take layers (20 weeks to 72 weeks old) and slaughter for meat chickens (about 14 weeks old). Please just one True Honest Photo? ...and how do they house and rotate 3000 chickens in pasture in a healthy way? I have yet to see them photos... I would think anyone that can do that would have photos ALL OVER THE NEWS of them... not just one little old goat I just saw in the latest article instead. Thanks ahead of time for any help you can give Reality...
Black Rock August 25, 2011 at 06:38 PM
...and I'm getting a bit tired of reading how this is about raw milk... I don't think it is. I think it is about EGGS & MEAT. So I wish Rawesomes & HFF would stop calling it such for us that do fight for our right and do produce raw milk RIGHT!
SBNaturally September 01, 2011 at 02:34 PM
@Black Rock Makes me wonder if you have a beef to grind with HFF. What is your web address of your business? What is your name? Seems like you based everything on photos and Unhealthyfamilyfarm blog whose owner is a former partner that has a fallout with Rawesome and a ax to grind. Have you visit the farm or alk with Sharon and Victoria directly and take a video? You can do that with Healthy Family Farm but not with many egg producers that provide over 90% of the eggs in the country. If not, I suggest you do as everything is heresay and last thing is you want is second and third hand rumors and the worst thing you can do is spread 2nd-3rd hand information without going directly to the source to visit or talk with them. I'm sure if you email or pick up the phone and get a hold of them, they'll be happy to have you visit the farm and talk with you on the details of the farm (some things they may not talk about due to court orders right now) And if you do take pictures/videos of them without their permission, you will be charged with a felony according to new legislation in states like Iowa. About the egg thing, I surprised to hear you say that...up until 20 years ago, lots of eggs were never refrigerated. You could see then stacked up on the floor in Costco. Salmonella most likely occur with eggs that are not organic, etc.
Black Rock September 06, 2011 at 10:50 PM
@SBNaturally... no ax to grind... was only responding to other's comments and THEN questions... bottomline is no matter how you shuffle one bit of this against that to attempt to prove your statement... in my 60 years on this earth, some of the information I see makes it impossible for me to believe that anyone could of did what they said they did... in other words... I am not saying they did not DO what they said they did 100% of the time. I find it impossible from what they have shown to the PUBLIC to do 100% of the TIME. Now who am I? I'm nobody that just puts on my tax return every year as my occupation as farmer. Who I am not is someone begging for attention and donations that is being charged with fraud.
Black Rock September 06, 2011 at 11:33 PM
@SBNaturally's following statement> "About the egg thing, I surprised to hear you say that...up until 20 years ago, lots of eggs were never refrigerated. You could see then stacked up on the floor in Costco. Salmonella most likely occur with eggs that are not organic, etc." end quote<<<<< Please note what I quoted from the FDA as follows... it is saying ONCE the eggs ARE refrigerated... THEY ARE RECOMMENDING THEY STAY THAT WAY! {Please re-read & re-read that again} With laying, gathering, packaging, transporting and then sweating... any egg could come into contact with Salmonella... especially in today's WORLD... so no matter what Costco does or in the old days whatever... I could never refrigerate an egg and then sweat in out in the noon day sun to sell to some un-expecting consumer to buy and then transport a few more hours to it is refrigerated again... and again... it is not the fact that every egg is going to be dangerous to eat... just the fact of the chances of some >ONE< getting salmonella to the point that it causes harm is then so much greater and not the way I want to do Business when I am not producing for our membership and instead retailing from a public farmer's market with no refrigeration to any larry, moe or curley that walks up to buy. The science of bacteria is an amazing skill to learn... especially how it reacts at different temperatures. I type this now as I drink my home brew of rotten raw milk... I think you new agers call it kefir. >;]
Black Rock September 07, 2011 at 12:12 AM
@SBNaturally... please let me re-word this one sentence from before... ...was... With laying, gathering, packaging, transporting and then sweating... any egg could come into contact with Salmonella... should of been... With laying, gathering, packaging, REFRIGERATING, transporting and then sweating... any egg could come into contact with Salmonella... ...I wanted to make this change only because the refrigeration and THEN change in temperature is the vehicle that allows for the transportation of bacteria into the interior of the egg... Comprende?
Black Rock September 07, 2011 at 02:40 PM
@SBNaturally...ok now I see one other thing I need to re-word... I put in my reply comment to you the following > "Please note what I quoted from the FDA as follows... " ...well... I meant to type > "Please note what I quoted from the USDA as follows..." ...sorry about that! I just get one evil organization mixed up with another all the time. FDA, USDA, blah, blah blah...as a small family farmer they seem all the same to me. >;]


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