Friday, March 2, 2012

I'm basically outraged, and why you should be too...

From a Healthy Family Farms Facebook post: "Here's an amazing, painterly photo of a Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader and mom elsewhere in the country."
I would warn people like I, who once had the idyllic notion of farm life as pictured above, to take heed of the lesson in the story below.

The word is out, folks. Sharon Palmer of Healthy Family Farms has today been charged with "38 felony counts, including two counts of conspiracy, multiple counts of grand theft involving several victims, two counts of elder theft, several counts of money-laundering, violations of the corporate code relating to the offer and sale of securities, and tax evasion," according to an article just released by the Ventura County Star.

Healthy Family Farms formerly and may still sell in farmer's markets from Santa Barbara down the coast to Santa Monica. They are also a vendor last I checked at one of the biggest farmer's markets in the state of California, Hollywood Sunday Farmer's Market.

"Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Harman said Palmer faces a significant amount of time in prison based on the amount alleged to have been stolen, which includes $1,144,542.10 from Rabobank."

At first I was shocked, and then it all came to me in a wave. I remember trying to figure out how in the world a known felon like Sharon Palmer was gifted a farm. The private investigation report on had an interview that I remember precisely because of the amount of money people who are devoted to good food had invested in Sharon Palmer:

"Judi Dawn von Schleifer was also interviewed in detail and a detailed statement was prepared based on the interview. Ms. von Schleifer indicated that she was introduced to Sharon Palmer by James Stewart and that when she first met Ms. Palmer in August, 2008 and asked Sharon what she needed help with. Sharon replied, "I need money." She began fundraising efforts by identify and developing contact information for investors and determining the amounts that the investors would be willing to invest in an organic farm. This information was given to Sharon Palmer who made the actual arrangement with the investors as to how much they would invest and what return was being promised them. It was Judi's understanding that each of the investors were promised a 12 percent return on their money to be paid back within three to six months. Sharon indicated that she was "on track" to get a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan between $900,000.00 and $1,000,000.00. Judi said that she never saw any paperwork pertaining to the loan. Judi's fundraising assistance permitted Sharon to raise $500,000.00 to help in purchasing the farm." 

The article states that the felony charges are between Feb. 1, 2008, and April 1, 2009. This woman met Sharon Palmer in August 2008 and Sharon moved to her new farm some time that Fall.  

From The history and Facts presented by Aajunus Vonderplanitz on his website: "In about 2008, James Stewart and a small goat’s-milk farmer Sharon Palmer entered an agreement to purchase a 62-acres farm for approximately 2 million dollars. James Stewart and several Rawesome members invested about 1 million dollars. Member Larry Otting acquired a 1-million dollars loan for the balance to secure the property and leased the property to Sharon Palmer who completely runs the farm. They called it Healthy Family Farms (HFF)." This must be where Larry Otting comes in as a new defendant as per Aajonus' account he secured the loan. There is that amount of "$1,144,542.10 from Rabobank." which may be the loan. It will all come out eventually. 

It seems James was working with Sharon from the beginning. I knew that he was her partner in crime from the testimony given to me by one of our sources. I just had no idea it went this deep. But the evidence was there, on all along. I am outraged. A monster describes her best, if indeed these charges are true. She was able to manipulate so many people into thinking she was a victim, a single mother of 5 children (when in actuality she had 3 living at home, now 2) and that she had good intentions of raising good food.
Let's face it folks. If these charges hold true, Sharon Palmer is a great con artist.

I have a few select words for James Stewart as well. His past with raw milk is not so clean. And now it appears he using the hard earned money of his Rawesome club members to con them as well. 

It looks like Aajanus is not so crazy after all. It was because of his website that I first decided to no longer buy from Sharon Palmer.

And this I say to you: I wish this was the only case of fraud in the real food movement that I know about. Sadly, it is not. This is a huge case of fraud that we can easily wave off as one that is an outlier...not normal. Yet, think about it this way: out of 100 people, 3 will be sociopaths who will only care about their own gain and not care about the wellbeing of the whole.
To think that the good intentions of the farmers market managers, raw milk supporters, Rawesome supporters, real food people, and her customers, employees, and volunteers were so badly manipulated... It is disgusting and despicable, if the charges are indeed true.

Caveat Emptor definitely applies to the real food movement and to farmer's markets. 

Further Reading: My investigation into Healthy Family Farms in Three Parts: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

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