Becoming a Certified Grower or Producer in Orange County California—what you need to know from the Orange County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office


You see all those vendors at the farmers markets around the county.  You may have thought, as we initially did, that they just got the produce in Downtown LA at the Produce Market.  We have found that is incorrect if the market refers to itself as a Certified Farmers Market in Orange County.  What we did discover is that you do not have to be a big growing operation to become a certified farmer.  And you can team up with a couple of other farmers so that you have enough to sell.


We asked Donna Barnes at the Orange County Agricultural Commissioner’s office about becoming a certified grower/producer in the county.  The OC Commissioner’s Office certifies farmers in our county so they can sell at Certified Farmers Markets.


Q (David Parikh for  Based on my conversations with some of the market vendors, you cannot buy produce at the LA Produce Mart and sell at CFMs.

A(Donna Barnes, OC Agricultural Commissioners’ Office): This is correct; it would be a serious violation to resell produce.  To participate in the CFM program you need to grow your own produce.


Q ( was wondering if you have any more detail about what is required to get a Certified Growers or Certified Producers certificate in Orange County .  I looked on line, and there does not seem to be a lot of information specific to our county.  What are the requirements to get a CFM certificate as a producer/grower? Does the production have to be in a rural area of the county?

A( Barnes) We inspect your growing area.  You need a California Nursery Stock License if you sell Plants.  If you use pesticides we inform you of the regulations and will issue you an “Operator Id” if necessary.  We will re-inspect your growing area every time you renew your Certified Producer Certificate (CPC) or add produce.


Q (  Does the Commissioner’s Office get into the zoning issues of local cities?

A(Barnes) No


Can back yard growers get certified?

A(Barnes) Yes


Q (  Also, is there a minimum size of land or value of output that needs to be in production?

A(Barnes)  No, your problem will be getting into a market with limited output.  The Market Managers prefer sellers with a steady reliable amount of produce.  They have limited space, so they may be [reluctant to rent to you].


Q (  I was also wondering about the prospect of certified growers/farmers selling products for other certified growers/farmers.


A(Barnes) One Producer may sell for up to two other Producers.  The information has to be referenced on your Certified Producer Certificate and verified by a letter.


Q (  Is it possible for a certified grower/producer to basically hire someone to sell at a Certified Farmers Market?

A(Barnes)  A producer may have an employee sell for them, but the producer has to fill out and sign an employee agreement letter, see attachment.  The employee may not work for commission; he or she must be a regular employee.


(  Thank you for answering all of our questions.  We will include the documents you provided so that people can have a better understanding of what Certified Farmers Markets are all about.


These are some links to documents she provided.  We converted them into pdf docs: