The storm stirred up by Bill Fujimoto’s recent resignation as manager of Monterey Market in Berkeley might seem surprising to some. But in Berkeley, perhaps more than anywhere else in the United States, passions run high over produce, and under Fujimoto’s direction, Monterey Market became iconic for its support for small-scale local, and sustainable farming, its reputation parallel to that of the nearby Chez Panisse.
Fujimoto’s knowledge of produce varieties, seasons and growing areas, his contacts with farmers and his encouragement of them to plant neglected or little known specialty items, such as Sierra Beauty apples and Pixie tangerines, have amplified his influence far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. And more than his expertise, his humility and integrity have inspired intense loyalty in the market’s suppliers, customers and employees.
“Bill Fujimoto is the only one of his kind in the United States,” said John Kirkpatrick, a citrus farmer in Lindcove, Calif. “I’m looking for other markets to sell to.”
But now, Fujimoto is out after a dispute among family members.