[Market-farming] Grower Only Farmers Markets

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Mon Jan 29 10:53:24 EST 2007

On Jan 29, 2007, at 10:14 AM, Tradingpost wrote:

> Our nearby market in Santa Fe is producer only but needs no such 
> paperwork.
> It would be fairly obvious that tomatoes and oranges in March aren't 
> grown
> locally but trucked hundreds of miles. Any suspicion can be settled by 
> a
> quick trip to the farm.  Late in the season we see vendors selling 
> corn they
> get from a local grower, but they're both local. I don't see the 
> problem
> with that, point being they're local and the produce is fresh. If 
> there's a
> fuss about the vendor not being the producer they'd just hire the 
> vendor
> and then he's their employee doing the selling. Local only is more to 
> the
> point than producer only. Another point: if I don't have enough to 
> sell to
> pay for the time and expense, what's wrong with having another grower 
> sell
> for me and getting a cut? It's still local and fresh.

Our market allows produce and crafts made or grown within our county or 
immediately adjacent counties. Vendors have to bring at least 60% their 
own stuff, but can bring up to 40% of others' produce etc, as long as 
it comes from within the same area. This works well for us, and does 
indeed allow people who haven't time or crop enough to come to market 
to sell there through another vendor; as well as expanding our 
offerings to include things that the specific vendors who come to 
market wouldn't otherwise have, while still keeping all items local.

I've been to another market where reselling-only vendors were allowed. 
Even if they did bring all local produce, they tended to be interested 
mostly only in whether they had gotten it cheap. They often brought 
poor quality, and often undersold the producer vendors. They also, in 
addition to having no idea of the work that had gone into it, rarely 
knew much about the produce they were bringing (variety, substances 
used in growing, etc), which can be a problem when trying to attract 
customers to the market who want to pay attention to what they're 
eating. This is not the same thing as an employee hired by a grower to 
be at the stand, who can at least potentially be taught about what they 
are selling (and will be so taught by a sensible employer); and who has 
an interest in the employer's staying in business (plus which the 
employer will probably be setting the prices.)

We are a small market; vendors generally know each other, and have seen 
each other's farms, as well as usually the farms of non-vendors from 
whom some vendors get some items. So far we haven't felt the need for 
an official inspection procedure. There's a process for dealing with 
problems, including possible eviction from the market, and an appeal 
process for the grower. We haven't needed to go through this with 
anybody at least since I joined the market, thirteen years ago now. If 
I were starting up a new market now, though, I would at least put in 
the market rules that the manager has the right to inspect if there are 
any complaints. It's getting less obvious what's out of season as 
greenhouse growing is becoming more common; plus which, I've known 
resellers (not at my current market, at the other one discussed above) 
to bring in produce that was in season, but that they'd been able to 
pick up cheaper elsewhere. A local tomato glut is enough of a problem; 
you don't want to compete with a glut coming from two states south of 
you, when your area just has the first fieldgrown tomatoes coming in 
and people ought to be eager for them.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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