What is the Difference Between a Certified Farmers Market and a Non-Certified One?

What is the difference between a Certified Farmers Market (CFM) and a non-certified one? As a CFM, we get this question a lot at the Visalia Farmers Market!

The biggest difference: All of the produce vendors at a Certified Market are California farmers and ranchers who practice the Agricultural Arts!
While the look and feel of Certified Farmers Markets throughout the state varies greatly from county to county (and even within counties!) the one thing they all have in common is the selling of certified products from those engaged in the Agricultural Arts in California.
A practitioner of the Agricultural Arts is someone who controls the land and is personally involved in and makes decisions regarding all phases of bringing an agricultural product to the Farmers Market. These phases include, but are not limited to:
– Planting
– Growing
– Fertilizing
– Irrigating
– Cultivating
– Controlling pests
– Harvesting
At the Visalia Farmers Market, when you visit a fresh produce booth, the people behind the table have been directly involved in one or ALL of the above phases of farming.

So to break it down further:

At a Certified Farmers Market:
In order to sell in a Certified Farmers Market, farmers and ranchers must have a producer’s certificate. The producer’s certificate, issued by the Agriculture Commissioner and displayed in each stall, is the buyer’s guarantee that the produce was grown by the vendor, right here in California!
At a Non-Certified Market:
In non-certified markets, vendors are not usually farmers and typically resell produce grown out of state (or even out of the country!) that they receive from distributors, or even as culls from packing houses.
At a Certified Farmers Market:
Certified Farmers Markets must be authorized by the County Agricultural Commissioner and abide by current legislation and regulations. This ensures that when you shop at a CFM, you can shop with confidence, knowing that your market is being held to high standards of health, cleanliness and business practices.
At a Non-Certified Market:
In non-certified markets, the market may only abide by their own rules and regulations. It is up to the buyer to inquire as to what those standard may or may not be regarding health, cleanliness and business practices.
At Certified Farmers Markets like the Visalia Farmers Market, small and large scale local family farms have an avenue to sell their goods, and the community has a set location and time where it can buy direct from the farmers with confidence!
This arrangement is beneficial for the farmer AND for you, the buyer! With the middle man cut out (the cost of shipping, storing, processing and distributing food is eliminated) locally grown crops are fresher, more affordable, and everyone benefits!

There are numerous ways to support the Agricultural Arts in your community. You can:

– Shop at your local Certified Farmers Market, and bring your friends!
– Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get all the latest news, deals and specials at the Market.
– Connect with your local farmers, and let them know you appreciate their hard work!
– Volunteer at the weekly Market, or for special community events with the Market.
– Become an individual or community sponsor. (More information on our upcoming Friends of the Market program coming soon!)