Exactly what defines a farmers’ market?

Some farmers’ markets are  small, involving only a few vendors and operating only once a week.  At the opposite end of the scale, some are huge weekend events involving hundreds of vendors and thousands of customers. What gives the happening a right to call itself a farmers’ market?  These are some characteristics outlined by the National AgLaw Center at the University of Arkansas:


• Farmers are present, selling items they’ve raised or created themselves to individual customers.


• The location is temporary, often  on public property such as a street or parking lot.


• The market operates periodically. Typically, that’s once or twice a week during the growing season (about 5-6 months).


•  The market was organized by a government or non-profit organization and is publicly owned.


These characteristics are what distinguish a farmers’ market from a roadside stand  or other type of food outlet in most people’s minds. However, notwithstanding the above definition, there are farmers’ markets at which most of the vendors are peddlers, not farmers. Also, some farmers’ markets are open year round and sell handcrafted items and other products  besides edibles.


In the past, people thought of a farmers’ market as a place to buy only whole fruits and vegetables.  Today, these markets offer much more than that.  Some food is processed, cut open to be displayed, and given to visitors as samples.  Because of these changes, health departments have stepped in to supervise and try to ensure that the food is safe.




National AgLaw Center Publications “Farmers’ Markets Rules Regulations and Opportunities” by Neil D. Hamilton


Purdue University Extension  “Food Safety Regulations for Farmers’ Markets”


You must be logged in to post a comment or question.

Sign In or Register for free.