Farmers Market: What & Why

Photo Courtesy of Jordan Madrid

Farmers Markets are Healthier & Better for Ourselves and the Environment.

In this post I'll discuss the advantages, disadvantages and the different kind of farmers market.  I cover what sells well at a market and what you need to do to sell your produce at your local farmers market.

I'll look at whether or not your farmers market less expensive than your local supermarket?  I think you know, but in this post you will find the answer.

In the United states the number of farmers markets has grown rapidly in recent years, from just under 2,000 in 1994 to more than 8,600 markets currently registered in the USDA Farmers Market Directory.

Did you know?

The origin of farmers ‘markets can be traced back to Egypt, over 5,000 years ago. Farmers of the Nile river region came together to sell their fresh produce to the populace.

It is a bit of an understatement to call the Easton Farmers Market “historic”.  In 1752 it was established and is considered the oldest continuously running farmers market in the United States. Farmers and merchants for 263 years have gathered in the towns Great Square to sell their fresh produce and handcrafted wares.

Farmers Market Advantages and Disadvantages:


  • Purchasing fresh ripe fruit and vegetables during their season.
  • Being able to talk to the farmer and learn exactly where and how the produce was grown.
  • Most produce is inexpensive comparatively to a super market. You can save anywhere from a few cents to as much as a dollar cheaper than your grocery store prices.


  • You cannot get seasonal fruit and vegetables out of season.
  • Caution must be taken when purchasing fresh meat or seafood you never can tell how long that meat has been floating in that melted ice. It would be much safer to get the sellers information and go directly to their store for meats and seafood.

Differences in Markets...

Some farmer markets have mainly fruits and vegetables and no baked goods, meats or seafood.  However some markets not only have all of the food previously listed but they also may include  crafts, entertainment and classes.

Some markets use tokens for payment for purchases while other markets accept cash and even some accept EBT (food stamps).

No matter how you pay for your purchases its always a good idea to bring your own reusable bags from home because, you know, the environment!

Why are Farmer Markets so Popular?

There are many reasons why farmers markets are so popular and on such high demand. Let us start with the fact that the fruit and vegetables are the freshest and tastiest in town. Fruits and vegetables can ripen fully in the fields and are brought directly to you -no long-distance shipping, no gassing to stimulate the ripening process no sitting for weeks in storage. Fresh from the farm! The farmers market food you buy is always seasonal. Delicious and fresh the market food reflects the truest flavors.  Shopping and cooking from the farmers market help you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region.

You also can find entertainment (usually music) at the farmers market as well as a variety of classes are offered from food demos to nutrition.

And as mentioned earlier the prices are lower at a farmers market tend to be lower when compared to your local supermarket.

Photo Courtesy of Frantisek Krejci

Why are Farmers Markets Better than Supermarkets?

In the U.S. food travels on an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. Every bit of this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources especially fossil fuels that contributes to pollution and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agricultural also uses many more resources than sustainable agricultural and pollutes the water, land air with toxic agricultural by products.

Farmers market food is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Gaida

Photo Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez

 The types of food you can find in your local grocery stores are foods that are highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed.

Here are just some of the huge varieties of produce that you rarely see, if at all, at your average supermarket; 

Click on Images to Learn More...

Red Carrots

Heirloom Tomatoes 

Purple Cauliflower

Stinging Nettle

Green (Young) Garlic

Watermelon Radish

Quail Eggs

Maitake Mushrooms

Another pro for farmers markets is you can find meats, cheese and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feed lots and cages that are typical of animal husbandry.

Photo Courtesy of Jplenio

Why should you shop at your local Farmers Market?

If you want to have confidence and peace of mind that you are feeding yourself and family with the healthiest and freshest produce that you know are locally grown then the farmers market is the path you will want to take.

By purchasing from a local farmer you are supporting your local economy and keeping small farmers in business. 

Also by shopping at a farmers market you are helping reduce the huge carbon footprint that commercial farms contribute to our environment.

What sells best at a Farmers’ Market?

Here are the eight most often purchased produce at a farmers’ market:

Click on Images to Learn More...


Sweet Corn

Heirloom Tomatoes








What About Selling Your Goods at a Farmers Market?

Are you interested in selling your produce at a farmers market?

What do you need to do to sell your products at a farmers’ market?

Certified Producer Certificate from the Department of Agriculture / Weights and Measures

You will need to obtain Certified Producer Certificate from the Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures.

Oregon law requires the scale to be licensed in the following cases:

  • It measures product in mass units.
  • It is used to value a product when ownership is transferred from seller to buyer.

Commercial scales must be licensed regardless of the application. Mass flow meters used to weigh product are considered commercial scales.

As an example here is a link for the specifics of the for what it takes to to sell your goods at a farmers market here in Oregon.

All you need to do to do is Google the name of your state plus 'Certified Producer Certificate from the Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures' to find the information for your specific area.

Temporary Food Facility Permit

If you want to sell food at a farmers’ market you will also need a Temporary Food Facility Permit. A permit is required for each point-of-sale location operating at the same time.

For your reference here is a link to the guidelines for what is required to obtain a Temporary Food Permit in my area.

Just as in the example below simply google the county in live in plus 'Temporary Food Permit' and you should be good to go.

You can make homemade foods such as breads and desserts just remember what ever you choose to make if it needs refrigeration, heat or whatever you will have to make the correct accommodations for that food you plan on selling at a market.

Shop On

For this post I interviewed several people about their personal experiences with farmer’s markets.  A comment I heard often was “I love going to all the vendors and trying the variety of samples offered." 

One person told me that at the market they frequent accepts their EBT card (food stamps). They said that although they are working to get off the EBT program being able to shop at a farmers market gives them the satisfaction they are feeding their family health fresh produce.

I spoke to several people who specifically go to farmers market to buy berries to make their favorite jams and jellies.

Another person told me how they make the farmers market a family outing, buying food already prepared and unfolding their blanket and enjoying their meal while music is played in the background. 

Whatever the reason is you visit a farmers market is a good reason. Support your local farmers, eat well and help save the planet.

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