Farmer’s Market Community Conversation

Posted by James Steele, April 20, 2009

A growing number of folks have expressed concerns over some vendors at our farmer’s markets not selling their own grown produce, but that they are not even local growers and are coming from outside our area, simply re-selling their products. Penny Wheat has sent the following open letter wanting to generate a community conversation on this topic and hopefully we can see some results that will help support our local farmers! Thank you Penny for sending this…

Hi all,

As a regular at the downtown farmer’s market, it has disturbed me to realize that there are a number of vendors who aren’t farmers selling produce there; they apparently aren’t even ‘local’ (from Alachua County or adjacent counties); and are apparently reselling produce, perhaps from as far away as south Florida. Few of these vendors are properly marked as ‘not local’ and ‘not farmer’, and some are quite squirrelly about where and how the produce has been grown (most of these vendors don’t seem to know at all.)

This concerns me, because it significantly affects both the credibility of the farmer’s market, and the freshness and quality of produce sold there. In addition, among the ECSC (Alachua County advisory board) recommendations is a list that would, if implemented, cultivate (every pun intended) a thriving local food economy. Last week at the market, I happened to run into Marion Radson, the Gainesville City Attorney, and asked him if he was aware of this situation, and whether the City of Gainesville can regulate this. Apparently, the City can do so.

My proposal is that we widen this conversation to include local farmers, and amongst ourselves converse about what the ‘local’ food shed should be, and why. Suggestions may spin off further discussion about ‘why’. If we are able to provide Mr. Radson with well-thought out suggestions, we may be able to solve this problem – with the result that more local farmers can be more successful at the downtown market. I’ve already written him and offered to begin this community conversation.

Look forward to the conversation!

All best,

Penny Wheat

Go Green Alternatives welcomes your comments on this important topic!

  1. 1. Trish Riley Says:

    Thanks, Penny for bringing up this important issue – I share your concern about the vendors at our local market because I prefer to buy locally grown organic produce. Although I always ask the market vendor whether their product is organic, their answers are sometime evasive. Unless I know the vendor, I can’t be sure of the product’s origin or growing conditions.

    Here’s an idea: Do we have an entrepreneurial sign maker who could create a small sign that vendors could buy for a small fee to post at their stands that would specify: locally grown, organically grown, biodynamic, naturally grown, or pesticide-free? Those who are qualified and willing to post the sign would give those of us who are concerned about these issues the green light to shop with these vendors. And this could be done entrepreneurially without waiting for the slow wheels of regulation to help weed out those who are not local or whose product was grown using synthetic petro-chemicals. Sign makers: take the lead!

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