Farmers Market Vending Opportunities : Cash in on selling fresh vegetables and fruit, crafts, or prepared food.

Selling your stuff at local Farmers Markets is a great way to get into contact with crowds of potential customers.  Generally, you can sell art/Crafts items, prepared foods, and organic produce at these markets.  And the rents are very reasonable.

This is a series of three articles which cover similar topics:  Swap Meets , Artisan Sales, and Farmers Markets.  There are a lot of items which can be sold at all three types of venues.

Swap Meet Vending  |  Selling at Arts & Crafts Fairs  |  Map of Farmers Markets, Videos, and Photos

We are still working on this article.  Your comments are welcome.  Contact OCBusinessStartUp.com

Free List of Farmers Markets — Vending Opportunities

 

  • Anaheim Farmers Market CFM in Downtown Anaheim Located near the 5 freeway & Lincoln map The market is open every Tuesday from noon until 7:00.  In addition to certified organic produce, there are also vending opportunities for selling gourmet packaged/prepared foods (e.g. cheese and coffee) and crafts.  Vendor rents are very reasonable.  The cost to sell art/craft items is only $27 and the cost of selling organic produce is only 7% of gross sales.  The renting a space to sell packaged/prepared foods is only $30 or 7% of gross sales whichever is greater.    To sell produce, you must be a farmer with a certificate from the California Department of Agriculture.   Stall size for crafters is about 100 sq ft. and very to accommodated produce seller’s needs.  Contact Devon or call 714 956 3586 ext 114 to rent a space.
  • Anaheim/Kaiser Farmers Market CFM @ Lakeview & Riverdale Fridays 10 – 2 Contact Joe Honescko Honescko@pacbell.net Joe manages several markets in the Orange County area.  This is a relatively small market which has produce from certified growers and prepared products.  This market has a large variety of prepared/packaged foods such as nuts, olive oil, cookies, bread.  Mediterranean foods such as pita, hummus and goat cheese have been doing well.  The cost to rent is 8% of gross sales for produce and food vendor spaces rent for $25 for about 100 sq ft.  Produce Vendors have about 300 sq ft.  All vendors are required to have a city business permit.  Prepared food must come from a facility inspected by a County Health Department, and all produce sellers must have a CFM certificate from the Orange County Agriculture Department.
  • Brea Downtown Farmers Market CFM @ W. Birch St at Brea Blvd.  in Downtown Brea this happens every Tuesday from 4:00-8:00.  Contact Joe 714.329.6755 Honescko@pacbell.net .  Joe manages several markets in the Orange County area.  This is a relatively small market which has produce from certified growers and prepared products.  This market has a large variety of prepared/packaged foods such as nuts, olive oil, cookies, bread.  Mediterranean foods such as pita, hummus and goat cheese have been doing well.  There also an opportunity to sell craft products.  The cost to rent is 8% of gross sales for produce and food vendors and craft spaces rent for $25 for about 100 sq ft.  Produce Vendors have about 300 sq ft.  All vendors are required to have a city business permit.  Prepared food must come from a facility inspected by a County Health Department, and all produce sellers must have a CFM certificate from the Orange County Agriculture Department.  Vendors selling crafts are required to have a state re-sell permit.
  • Buena Park Farmer’s Market CFM on Stanton and La Palma in the parking lot of Buena Park Mall.  Saturdays 9-2.  Contact the manager Lee at (562) 449-9299 or leeostendorf@charter.net.   Vending opportunities include produce from certified growers, hot foods, specialty prepared foods, and unique (handmade) crafts.  The rent is 10% of gross sales for all types of vendors.  Contact Lee to describe what you would like to sell.  She manages also manages the Garden Grove Farmers Market, the Huntington Beach Farmers Market @ Peters Landing, and three other Farmers Markets in LA County.
  • Chino Hills Farmers Market CFM @ City Center Drive South at The Shops Wednesdays 4 – 8  Contact 714.329.6755Honescko@pacbell.net .  See info for the Anaheim Kaiser market.  It’s the same set up.
  • Corona Del Mar Farmers Market CFM @ Marguerite & PCH Saturdays 9- 1 Contact .  This has two managers For Produce Rick or Sandy Heil  rheil1111@cox.net (? email working) phone (949) 361-0735.  You need to fax your CFM certificate, a and OC Health Department Permit if you are selling prepared foods to 949 492-1252.   Price of a stall is less than $100 and you can get on the waiting list.  The ability to rent is based on a waiting list and what other vendors have dibs on.   (?check)  If you want to sell Craft Items, contact Colby Carrier at 949-218-5378.  For the crafts, they want handmade items, and the artist must be present to sell the products.  They verify that the products are handmade.  You need to show photos of yourself making the product.  Stall costs are $65/day if you rent for one day and $55/day if your rent for three months.  They have space available for unique hand crafted items.  The restriction is that you cannot sell the same thing as other vendors.  Examples of what other vendors are selling are: plants, wood crafted swings, carvings, soap, woman’s clothing, bath and beauty supplies.   If you have a product that is already being sold, you can go on the waiting list.  It’s hard to estimate how long before your can rent, but Colby estimates 6 months to a year depending various factors.  This team of managers does two markets Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach) and San Clemente.  The busy street is blocked off for pedestrian traffic and stalls are put on the sidewalks.  Stall sizes are about 4’x9′
  • Costa Mesa Farmers Market @ The Orange County Fairgrounds, Thursdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    See box below on getting in a market run by the OCFB.
  • Costa Mesa SoCo Certified Farmer’s Market CFM @ Sunflower/Hyland Sundays 9-2 Contact Mark SproutsofPromise@gmail.com (? email ) (310) 310-2546 Their is not base rent.  They charge 7% of sales for produce sellers and 10% of rent for sellers of prepared foods.  Spaces are about 10×10′.  They do not have crafting opportunities.  They have available vending spaces, but it has to be something that they are not already selling.  Mark said that you should fill out the application on their website and send it in.  If they cannot accommodate your product at the current time, they will hold onto the application.  The set of applications serve as a waiting list. Get your app in soon because time on the list will determain rental stall allocations.
  • Dana Point Farmers Market also know as The New Dana Point CFM @ La Plaza Park, PCH and Golden Lantern Saturdays 9-1.   contact Steve Crossan at 951-271-0669 steve@stevecrossen.com for vending info.  The size of the booths are 10×10 and they go for 8% of gross sales for food vendors and $25 for craft vendors.  They allow craft vending once a month.  Steve does not like to have a lot of vendors selling the same thing.  Two vendors is the max for a type of item.  Currently (June 2011) he is looking for cheese, eggs and honey vendors.
  • Fullerton CFM @ Independence Park – Euclid & Valencia Wednesdays 8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.    Contact Mona  714-871-5304
  • Fullerton Farmers’ Market and Crafts (April – October on Thursday s) Spaces go for about $40/day.  This is operated by the City of Fullerton.
  • Garden Grove Farmers Market on Historic Main St. CFM also known as the Local Harvest Farmers Market.@ Main & Garden Grove.  Sundays 9-2. Contact the manager Lee at (562) 449-9299 or leeostendorf@charter.net.  Vending opportunities include produce from certified growers, hot foods, specialty prepared foods, and unique (handmade) crafts.  The rent is 10% of gross sales for all types of vendors.  Contact Lee to describe what you would like to sell.  She manages also manages the Buena Park Farmers Market, the Huntington Beach Farmers Market @ Peters Landing, and three other Farmers Markets in LA County.  Note: Some sites on the internet say that this market has closed.  This is wrong.  There was a previous farmers market on the same location that closed, but this one took over the main street location.
  • Garden Grove Farmers Market CFM @ Kaiser Permanente (Scheduled to open July 2011) 12100 Euclid Street Wednesdays 9- 1 contact Joe Joe Honescko Honescko@pacbell.net (714) 329-6755  Joe manages several markets in the Orange County area.  This is a relatively small market which has produce from certified growers and prepared products.  This market has a large variety of prepared/packaged foods such as nuts, olive oil, cookies, bread.  Mediterranean foods such as pita, hummus and goat cheese have been doing well.  The cost to rent is 8% of gross sales for produce and food vendor spaces rent for $25 for about 100 sq ft.  Produce Vendors have about 300 sq ft.  All vendors are required to have a city business permit.  Prepared food must come from a facility inspected by a County Health Department, and all produce sellers must have a CFM certificate from the Orange County Agriculture Department.
  • HB Art A Fair aka Huntington Beach Farmers Market and Craft Fair ( Fridays.  Crafts also on Weekends and Holidays) http://www.hbartafaire.com/application.htm $130 for the weekend and $50 for weekdays.  This is a great location for selling crafts, homemade specialties like jelly, and organic fruit and vegetables.  It’s on the beach side of PCH at the end of busy main street.  Space is limited, but there are a lot of tourists and beach visitors that feel a need to buy something—like at a museum gift shop.  The farmers market is run next to the art fair.  It is run on Fridays by the OCFB.  See box below about getting into a OCFB market.
  • Huntington Beach-Surf City Nights Downtown Street Fair CFM@  Main & Olive in Huntington Beach
    Tuesdays 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.    Contact Mary  surfcitynights@verizon.net 714-536-8300. With its mix of higher income residents, local visitors, and tourists this is one of the best locations to be at.  According to their recent ad in Sands Magazine, this is the Largest weekly Street Fair in OC.  They have a certified farmers market, food and arts and crafts vending opportunities.  They strive to keep the same vendors week after week, and since it’s such a great location vendors (especially produce vendors) rarely give up their stalls.  Selection of craft vendors is made based on two factors: how much the committee likes your product (You score points if your product is unique, handmade, and has artistic values. ) and how long you have been on their waiting list.  Surf’s Up If you are selling a unique craft at another market try to get on their waiting list. The prices of spaces are very reasonable.  Peek pricing is less than $50 for Non-profit groups & certified growers (produce) | less than $100 for snacks, artisans/crafts, and other businesses | less than $150 for prepared foods.  You will need to get a city business permit and if appropriate a Orange County Health Department Permit, and/or CFA certificate from the OC Agriculture department if you are a grower
  • HB Mercado Certified Farmer’s Market CFM + Non Certified Area is on busy Warner Ave near the Home Depot.   It is set up next door in the high school parking lot.  As the name Mercado implies this serves Huntington Beach’s first and second generation immigrant community by making fresh fruits and vegetables  available.  Many policy makers are concerned that inner city residents don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  They participate in California Fresh, which is commonly know as the food stamp program.  They also plan to have entertainment to draw in the crowds.  Stall sizes are about 100 sq feet and you can rent one, two or 3 stalls.  The rent is 8% for produce and 10% for arts and crafts vendors.  Produce vendors have to have a CFM certificate.  Prepared food vendors are in the non-certified area.  These can be pre-cooked packaged foods or food cooked at the event.  (The non profit that runs the community is reaching out to the community and would be willing to help community members learn about start up costs, what equipment they need, and help them through the permitting process–they speak Spanish as will help translate for the OC Health Department and HB City Administration.)  They are interested in encouraging people to offer ethnic foods prepared and packaged foods in their non-certified areas.  Contact Josie Cervantes at josie@velaela.org or call 323-263-4462  for vendor information. This is set up every Saturday from 9:00-1:00 in the parking lot of Ocean View High School.  It is run by the community association and the city.  Contact (714) 596-7063 for more info and iosefa.ovrp@gmail.com for general information about the event.
  • Huntington Beach Farmers Market at Peter’s Landing CFM Located at Peter’s Landing on PCH just south of the Seal Beach Navy Base.  Saturdays 9-2.    Contact the manager Lee at (562) 449-9299 or leeostendorf@charter.net.  Vending opportunities include produce from certified growers, hot foods, specialty prepared foods, and unique (handmade) crafts.  The rent is 10% of gross sales for all types of vendors.  Contact Lee to describe what you would like to sell.  She manages also manages the Garden Grove Farmers Market, the Buena Park Farmers Market, and three other farmers markets in LA County.  This is a great location along busy PCH.  And it is surrounded by higher income people in Sunset Beach, and Huntington Harbour.  Also, because of the small lot sizes, and high land values this area is a great distance to the nearest supermarket.  Se our Farmers Market Map page for photos.  When we visited on a Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t super crowded but most of the people were buying something.
  • Huntington Beach Old World Farmers Market  This will happen in the Old World complex which is near Bella Terra Mall   7561 Center Ave. #49 Huntington Beach, CA 92647.  A lot of new apartments have gone up in the area so this might be a good opportunity; and this center has been popular with seniors in the past.  See info on accepting CalFresh below.  The center focuses on European and Hispanic goods.  You need a business license, proof of being a certified producer, list of employees, proof of insurance, payment policy…  Fruit must be in baskets and you must have prices written by hand on wood or a chalk board.  This event is being managed by BlueCats Promotions. No phone number listed on their webpage blucatsevents.com
  • Irvine Farmers Market CFM at Historic Park at the Irvine Ranch 13042 Old Myford Road, Irvine  Tuesdays 9 AM – 1 PM (rain or shine) see box below.  They also have a crafting section.  See the box below on how to get into a  OCFB market.
  • Irvine Farmers Market CFM at Irvine  Center Across from UCI Saturdays 8 a.m. – Noon Manager – They also have a crafting section at this market.  See box below about how to get into a OCFB market.
  • Irvine Farmers Market CFM @ The Great Park, Marine Way off Sand Canyon.  Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. see box below about getting into a OCFB market.  They also have an art/craft section.
  • Irvine/Kaiser Farmers Market CFM @ 6670 Alton Pkwy & Sand Canyon Ave. Fridays  10 – 2 Contact Joe Honescko Honescko@pacbell.net Joe manages several markets in the Orange County area.  This is a relatively small market which has produce from certified growers and prepared products.  This market has a large variety of prepared/packaged foods such as nuts, olive oil, cookies, bread.  Mediterranean foods such as pita, hummus and goat cheese have been doing well.  The cost to rent is 8% of gross sales for produce and food vendor spaces rent for $25 for about 100 sq ft.  Produce Vendors have about 300 sq ft.  All vendors are required to have a city business permit.  Prepared food must come from a facility inspected by a County Health Department, and all produce sellers must have a CFM certificate from the Orange County Agriculture Department.
  • (??? closed ???)Irvine/Traveland Farmers Market CFM @ Traveland parking lot Sand Canyon off the 5 Freeway 8 – 2    Contact Stacey staceypapadakis1@yahoo.com (949) 551-1881 They hold a farmers market on their Family Fun Days.  There is craft vending and produce sales opportunities.  Traveland is the largest RV sales center in the world.
  • Laguna Beach Farmers Market. @ Lumberyard Parking Lot next to the City Hall.  Saturdays 8:00-Noon See box below about how to get into a OCFB Farmers Market.
  • Laguna Hills Farmers Market CFM @ Laguna Hills Mall Parking Lot, the 5 Freeway and El Toro Road Fridays
    9 a.m. – 1 p.m. See box below about renting from the OCFB.
  • Laguna Niguel Farmers Market CFM At Plaza De La Paz Shopping Center on the Corner of La Paz and Pacific Park Sundays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. See box below re getting into a OCFB market.
  • Newport Beach Farmers Market @ 3400 Block Via Opoto Lido Marina Village Sundays 9-1.  They have spaces available from 10′ to 40′.  You can contact them at NewportBeachFM@Gmail.com [We are waiting to hear back on pricing and what you can sell at this Farmers market.]
  • Orange Farmers Market CFM at The Village at Orange, 1500 E Village Way between Katella & Lincoln on Tustin St. Thursdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  See box below on renting from the OCFB.
  • Orange Certified Farmers Market CFM @145 S. Lemon St. Thursdays  2 – 6  Contact Jim  (951) 532-2822
  • Old Town Orange Farmer’s & Artisans Market @ Cypress & Palm Sundays 8 – 12 Contact Brandon brandonOHG@gmail.com (714) 348-8158 [info request sent]
  • San Clemente Farmers Market @ Seville 200 block and Avenida Del Mar Sundays 9-1. This has two managers For Produce Rick Heil  rheil1111@cox.net (? email working) phone (949) 361-0735.  You need to fax your CFM certificate, a and OC Health Department Permit if you are selling prepared foods to 949 492-1252.   Price of a stall is less than $100 and stall availability is based on a waiting list and whether or not another vendor is selling that type of produce (?check)  If you want to sell Craft Items, contact Colby Carrier at 949-218-5378.  For the crafts, they want handmade items, and the artist must be present to sell the products.  They verify that the products are handmade.  You need to show photos of yourself making the product.  Stall costs are $65/day if you rent for one day and $55/day if your rent for three months.  They have space available for unique hand crafted items.  The restriction is that you cannot sell the same thing as other vendors.  Examples of what other vendors are selling are: plants, wood crafted swings, carvings, soap, woman’s clothing, bath and beauty supplies.   If you have a product that is already being sold, you can go on the waiting list.  It’s hard to estimate how long before your can rent, but Colby estimates 6 months to a year depending various factors.  This team of managers does two markets Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach) and San Clemente.  The busy street is blocked off for pedestrian traffic and stalls are put on the sidewalks.  Stall sizes are about 4’x9′
  • San Juan Capistrano The Old Capistrano Certified Farmers Market @ Downtown SJC–Yorba Street between Camino Capistrano and El Camino Real–Every Wednesday.   This established Farmers market has been going strong for more than 14 years.  They also have allow Craft sales and direct sales of unique specialty items.  The Certified Farmers Market accepts SNAP.  Additionally they allow vendors to link to their website and Facebook page so that they can connect with people who have met them at the market.  The market is run by the Chamber of Commerce so they partner with you to promote your business.  SJC is a destination for higher income tourists, and you can connect with locals who visit the market every week.   All the applications are on their website  farmersmarketsjc.com.  You need to have a Resale Permit and get a business permit from the city.  You can apply for the business permit online.
  • Santa Margarita Farmer’s Market CFM @ 30151 Las Flores Fridays 2 – 7
    Contact Verge vhagopian88@yahoo.com (949) 648-1033 [vendor info request sent]
  • Seal Beach Farmers market @ Westminster Blvd & Seal Beach Blvd.  Tuesdays 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
    Contact Joe Honescko@pacbell.net Joe manages several markets in the Orange County area.  This is a relatively small market which has produce from certified growers and prepared products.  This market has a large variety of prepared/packaged foods such as nuts, olive oil, cookies, bread.  Mediterranean foods such as pita, hummus and goat cheese have been doing well.  The cost to rent is 8% of gross sales for produce and food vendor spaces rent for $25 for about 100 sq ft.  Produce Vendors have about 300 sq ft.  All vendors are required to have a city business permit.  Prepared food must come from a facility inspected by a County Health Department, and all produce sellers must have a CFM certificate from the Orange County Agriculture Department.
  • Tustin Farmers Market CFM @ the Corner of El Camino Real and 3rd Street.  Held e Wednesdays  9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  see box on how to rent from the OCFB below.
  • Yorba Linda Farmers Market @ Main Street in Old Town(e) Yorba Linda Saturdays 9-1.   The space size is about 100 sq. ft.  and the City does not require you to have a business license.  They have a reasonable cost for crafters–only $25 or 10% of gross sales whichever is more.  You can sell certain gourmet goods and self-made crafts.  The manager is really business friendly, and quickly replies to internet inquires regarding what can be sold.  Contact YLFarmersMarket@google.com for more info.

 

Renting from the OCFB — Orange County Farm Bureau

The Orange County Farm Bureau is an not for profit organization dedicated to helping agricultural interests in the county.  As part of their mission they are the biggest operators of Farmers Markets in the County.  A majority of these markets are held on public property.  They keep rents low ($20-40/day from what we understand)  to help out their farmer-vendors, and many markets have opportunities to sell prepared foods and craft items.  Because of their support from the public, any qualified vendor is eligible to  sell at their events.  They don’t seem to be eager to get new vendors, but if you are qualified, they cannot keep you out for the heck of it.  To rent a space, you must (1) apply in writing by filling out the following applications and provide (for crafters and sellers of non-certified foods a copy of your California State Franchise board re-sell license and health permit if you are selling food), and a application for a city business permit for the city you want to do sell in (click here to find out how to get these)and  photos if requested.

(2) Send you application through the mail to: Orange County Farm Bureau, 13042 Old Myford Rd., Irvine, CA 92620 Phone and e-mail communication seem to be ineffective.  Mark you calendar.
(3) Within a couple of weeks the market manager should make contact with you regarding becoming a vendor.  If they accept your application, they will tell you what you need to do to start your farmers market business.  If they deny you,
(4) Send a letter to the address above requesting their market manager’s  written policy regarding how they select vendors, and ask how you can be placed on the waiting list.  Ask what requirements you need to fulfill to get in.  They may require that you pay for a city business permit.

 

Well, as you can see above, local farmers markets can be a great deal for vendors.

  • The rent is low when you consider the amount of exposure you get.
  • Compared with leasing space, there is a lot of flexibility.  If your products don’t sell, you can just go to the beach.  You don’t have to worry about being committed to a long term lease.  And you don’t have to pay for utilities.
  • Relatively low capital outlay.  Typically you just pay for a tables, chairs, signage,… That’s much less than if you had to lease a store.

 

Some managers seemed annoyed that we were writing this article.  They have tenants and want to keep on renting to their friends that are “in the know.”  In fact, a majority of them did not reply to our e-mail.  And some did not return our calls.  And one company does not give out the phone numbers to their market managers.  Renting out the stalls is not a problem for the busy farmers markets.  In fact, some of the managers asked if we had to include their phone numbers.  Some expressed concern that they end up telling people there is nothing to rent fifty times a day.  And some markets are such good deals for vendors that they haven’t had an available stall for rent in three years.  Their current tenants do not want to give up the stall.

 

That may seem kind-of weird.  Why don’t the managers just raise the rent and make some more profit?  The reason is that a lot of the time these Farmers Market events are not being run for profit.  The rents cover the cost and the market managers are not profit motivated.  Certified Farmers Markets (CFM’s) are usually run by non-profit organizations that have different goals.  The CFM program, which dates back to 1977, was established to help keep local farmers in business by providing them access to higher margin retail sales, and to provide the public with greater access to locally grown foods.

 

Local governments have been encouraging Farmers Markets because it generally gives their downtown a “hometown” feel, it provides access to fresh fruit and vegetables to segments of the community that may otherwise not eat much fresh produce, and it helps improve the general “health and welfare” of the community.  Downtown merchants have also formed non-profits to hold Farmers Markets because they draw people to downtown.

 

Most markets are basically run by a manager or a manager and a committee.  Their goal is to have a nice event.  From our conversations with them, we found out that what they wanted was a wide variety of unique hand made products.  The message they send to customers is that the Farmers actually grew this special food specifically for the market today and the artisans made these products by themselves.  You will not find these products anywhere else.  So if you have something that looks like it’s available at a 99c store, forget about getting in.  Also, the emphasis is on local products.  Goods imported from china or fruit from Mexico will just not be permitted—never mind that the goods may be hand crafted and the fruit was grown by actual farmers south of the boarder.  There are exceptions for gourmet goods that cannot be grown locally like coffee and flowers.

 

Managers of successful markets get a lot of applications to go through.  Don’t make their job easier by giving them a valid reason to just dump your application into the trash.  Because of government support for these events, you have rights.  Think about it in a different context.  If the public library only lend books out to people who looked smart, the state park manager told you that camping spots were only for her friends, or the local school told you your kid the team was already full; you would be upset.  But that’s why there is a policy about getting a library card, reservation system for the state park campground, and the coach holds tryouts.

 

How do you get into a Farmers Market?

  • Have all your ducks in a row.  PERMITS, PERMITS, PERMITS.  If you apply and say you “don’t know nothing about no permits”, you will just have to keep on waiting.  Market managers don’t want the hassle of dealing with vendors that lack the necessary permits. [Info on getting a re-sell permit, city business license.] If you are selling a craft product, get your resell permit from the state.  If you are selling a food, get an Orange County Health Permit.  If you’re selling produce, you need to be a Certified Grower from the Orange County Agriculture Department.  (See Below)  Remember that as a certified grower you or your family members can sell for other certified growers.
  • Have a product pitch ready.  Be able to describe why your prodict is special.  Did you make it or grow it yourself?  Is it unique?  Submit photos of your product and photos of it being produced locally.
  • Don’t just take no for an answer.  Local Farmers Markets, Swap Meets, and Art Fairs offer a good opportunity for people to get into businesses with a low start up cost because they are subsidized by our tax money either explicitly or implicitly.  An example of an explicit subsidy would be WIC vouchers which must be used at a market or as grant to the organization that runs the market.  Implicit subsidies come from the fact that they are not paying a market going rate for the public property they may be using or that they are run by a non-profit corporation.  So unlike Ralphs, they are exempt from paying Federal and State income taxes.  But strings come with government support.  They have to have a transparent selection process to decide what products they will sell.  They cannot say things like “that sort of product will attract Hispanics.  Why don’t you try Santa Ana?”
  • If they have a vendor that’s selling something similar that is a valid reason for not renting to you.  But ask about their waiting list and selection criteria.  It works like government housing, the person who meets their criteria and has been on the waiting list the longest must be given an opportunity to rent.  They cannot rent to people they like without giving a rational as to why some are preferred to others.  It doesn’t cost you anything to be on their waiting list.
  • Send a courteous letter along with photos and any application they would like you to fill out by certified mail.
  • If you are asked to make a side payment or were denied for unfair reasons, you have the right to file this complaint form. But remember this is a public document, so anything that is untrue could be considered slander, and there is no law that says they have to be nice to you.  If you feel that you were denied because of your ethnic background or that your products would appeal to a non-target ethnic group (e.g. too Hispanic/Black/Asian), you may want to contact the Attorney General.  Again we are not legal experts so seek legal advice from a qualified person.  That is one of the strings attached with the Farmers Market accepting government subsidies.

There are three Catigories of items that can be sold at farmers markets: Certified agricultural products, gourmet or specialty items, and processed food.  We will have a brief look at each of these below.

How do you become a certified producer or certified grower ?

 

Well we have done some research into the regulations, and are still confused.  But that means we get to have fun with defining regulatory terms.

You have seen the terms CFM and CFM Certificate above, and may have asked yourself what is being certified, the market, the produce, or some “organic” qualities of the produce being certified.  Well, all of these would be wrong answers.  The County Agriculture Department, officially called Orange County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, actually goes out and certifies that you are growing or producing some agricultural product.  Melons would be grown but eggs would be produced.  It doesn’t really mater since the terms Certified Producer and Certified Grower are used interchangeably.

Okay, if you are making fruit out of plastic and left over asbestos insulation from your attic that would be a craft and you would not have the fruit that you produced as an agricultural product by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office. The purpose of certification is to show that you are the person growing or producing the product and you are doing it with in the county.  Additionally, the farmer or a member of her family will be at the Farmers Market selling directly to customers. We wouldn’t want any city-folk selling that imitation foreign fruit to make it into our Certified Farmer’s Market.

There were no minimum farm size requirements noted on the commissioner’s website, and you don’t have to own the land.  Also, we did not notice that the Commissioner’s office gets into zoning issues with the city or local government—which may be the county itself. Click here for an interview we did regarding how you can become a certified producer.

Note on the form that as a certified producer you can sell for one or two other certified producers.  By working together you can share work; and if your yield is small you can pool your inventory.  Another option is to hire an employee(s).  The commissioner’s office makes you prove the the employee in on payroll and not a commissioned sales person.

 

Getting Organic Certification

The term organic is a general term which refers to anything relating to a living entity.  Or anything that is made of mater that has come from a once-living organism, and is capable of decay or the product of decay, or is composed of organic compounds. [definition from Wikipedia]  So in the general use of the word, virtually anything in at a farmers market could be called organic including the plastic containers and the asphalt you are standing on.  But most people don’t use the term “organic” to refer to asphalt or plastic.  And some sellers might get away with saying their stuff is organic as long as they don’t use the term certified organic.

 

[Off-Topic What they are thinking of is agricultural products that have been grown without certain types of fertilizers, pesticides and has not been processed using “chemicals” or contain “chemical food additives”.  The “anti-organic” types of fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, and chemical food additives tend to be produced using modern industrial processes.  We won’t get into what makes one “chemical” okay and another bad in the view of the organic movement because there does not appear to be a coherent scientific-based definition of what makes food consistent with this use of the word organic.  Just suffice it to say the chemicals considered to be bad tend to be made in modern industrial plants.  Some modern ways of food processing are also considered anti-organic.  Examples include applying radiation to kill off germs, and genetically modifying food in a way that is considered to be unnatural.  Although some people in the organic movement may not agree with a definition, the federal government has put into law its definition of organic in Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 which is implemented in of the Code of Federal Regulations Title 7, Part 205.]

 

But to get certified organic, your produce must be certified by a trade organization.  On of the biggest is the California Certified Organic Farmers agency (CCOF)  Their certification is based on California Organic Foods Act (COFA) of 1990 which they helped write.  Certification for small farms costs $700 for the first year and $300-$500 for every additional year.  Certification for food processors costs $1,200 and $900 for every additional year.  For more information about organic certification, see the CCOF’s website. www.ccof.org

Selling Gourmet or Specialty items at Farmers Markets

Market managers like to allow in other items sot that shoppers have a variety of things to choose from.  They do not have to be CFM certified and tend to be imported goods that we just don’t produce around here.  We have listed some ideas below, but be sure to check with the market manager before you load up on inventory.

  • Packaged foods can be either certified or non-certified.  To be certified, you need to be a certified grower or producer.  For instance if you want to sell cheese.  You have to show that you produced the milk/cream in Orange County and that the cheese was made from what your cows produced.  The market manager is in charge of verifying this.

Flowers (Non Certified) You can get wholesale flowers at a discounted price at the LA Flower District.  They have three indoor markets.  This is where your local flower shop and event planners go.  To get the real wholesale prices you will need to (1) show them that you are in business and not just trying to save money.  You will need a resale license and show that you are buying for a business. [click here] (2) Pay for the official badge costs $50 for a bit over a year.  (3) be willing to wake up early and drive to LA during whole-seller hours (2-8 m, w, f and 5-6 tu, th, sa) .  They have a nice website that’s geared toward merchants and retail customers.  If you are interested in selling Flowers

Gourmet Coffee We found this interesting coffee importer site.  They work with smaller orders and will blend the coffee, bag the coffee, and put an attractive label the coffee with your name on it.  They have several  label templates, or you can design your own label.  According to their website, your gross margins on coffee could be 50%-75% if you sell at the regular retail level.  They can also import the big bags of coffee beans so you can scoop it out for your customers and custom grind it for them.  http://www.coffee-importers.com  (site not currently working  See our coffee shop page to find out where you can have coffee made with your label on the package.  )  Additionally, their coffee has certification that the pickers and other workers were treated fairly.

Non-Certified Produce You may be able to sell this in a market that is not a Certified Farmers Market (looks like all of them are CFMs because of government incentives), swap meet, fair, or posibly art fair.  Most of the independent grocery stores, produce stores, and people you see selling stuff at swap meets get their produce, nuts, and other items at the LA Wholesale Produce Market.  See out page on buying wholesale form more info.  You find nuts, dried fruit, imported produce not grown in CA there.

 

Prepared foods—getting a health permit.

To sell food that you prepare at the farmers market or that you prepare in your own facility, you will need to get a health permit from the Orange County Health Department.

Expand your market by accepting Food Stamps –>  WIC, EBT and SFMNP

There are two ways to accept food stamp money, you can accept WIC women infants and children Farmers Market vouchers or your can accept EBT money.   The term food stams money is not suposed  at markets or when talking to people to be used because it stigmatises those receiving government assistance.  Cal Fresh Clients or EBT card holders seem to be acceptable.  Well whatever you call it, there is a  a lot of money going through these programs.

WIC Farmers Market Program, (WIC video from WA for Participants)

WIC is a federal government program for low income women who are pregnant or have young children.  Based on 2008 Guidelines, a family of 4 could qualify if their monthly income was less than $3,400/month.  That works out to $40,800/year so there are a lot of people in the state who qualify.  They are given $20 vouchers to be used at qualified Farmers Markets.    The USDA also has a program for seniors called SFMNP– Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.  Seniors can qualify if they make less than 185% of the federal poverty level.  If you have been approved to accept WIC vouchers you will also be able to take these vouchers.   Currently the California Department of Agriculture issues vouchers for the Farmers Market WIC and SFMNP which participants receive in addition to their regular benefits.  They can only be spent at approved farmers market vendors.   If you have credit card processing it might be passible for you to accept ETB cards.

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer Cards.  They work off the major credit card processing networks, so you can ask you bank about accepting these cards.  The food stamp program in California has been re-branded “CAL FRESH.”  You may have seen ads for the program on TV or heard them on the radio.  The sate is doing what it can to expand these programs and a lot of people are using them.  As explained on the EBT Project website:

The cardholder simply slides this card through a point-of-sale (POS) device, or uses the card at an automated teller machine (ATM). The card is convenient, secure, and reduces the stigma sometimes associated with public assistance.  ebtproject.ca.gov

This program was set up for Retail Food Stores (That’s possibly why many small stores in low income community are called FOOD STORE rather than convenience stores.  )and it’s now possible for Farmers Market Vendors to accept food stamp money through EBT cards USDA SITE –> http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt/fm.htm in California.  But that’s changing in California.  7-11 gas stations and a lot of other outlets now accept food stamp money.   Cal Fresh Clients can also obtain money from ATM’s (LA Times Article).  This program is run by the California Department of Agriculture and the USDA.

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