Arts and crafts vendors at farmers markets
I'm trying to redirect a non-food realated discussion from my local board.
I don't like craft vendors at farmers markets. When going to a farmers market I'm looking for fresh produce. I don't even like too many prepared food vendors when they start to take up room that can be used by farmers.
If I want to buy cooking oil, jellies, jams, etc,etc ... there are stores that do that. If I want to buy earrings ... there are stores that do that.
However, there is no substitue for fresh from the farm produce other than driving out to a farm. Supermarkets don't do it as well.
I was complaining about too many craft vendors at a local farmers market. One vendor wrote ...
"Perhaps it is not that they have too many crafts stands, but too little produce. I would hope the Napa area is supportive of their local artists. How many weekly or monthly art (or art and craft shows) can you name? As artists, we are desperately trying to stay afloat and reach the public. The economy has created a need for us to move to northern California. We used to be in the weekly Santa Barbara Art and Craft Show on the Beach. While we did not make enough to brag about, we did manage to survive. Here we are fighting to find any venues possible to show our artwork. Spending the hours and/or days required to create artwork, driving hours to your venue, hours setting up your display or taking it back down, hoping to sell enough to cover your expenses and give you a small profit if you are lucky... this takes determination and lots of will power. But first and foremost, we are artists. Build an art and/or craft show, and we... along with many other artists, will come. Until then, I am sure the artists and craftspeople attending the Napa Farmer's Market are very grateful to be there, and thankful you take the time to look at their ware. And hopefully, you will find something to compliment your home or lifestyle!"
The problem is that crafts stands take up spaces that could be used by farmers. Fewer farmers, fewer customers going to the market. Eventually it defeats both the craftspeople and farmers.
This irritates the *heck* out of me. Unfortumately, beggers cannot afford the luxry of choosing up here in Boise. We have one and only one (the City Market on Saturdays). It is nice to stroll around at every once in a while but it is closer to 75% arts and crafts and only 25 % food (10% of which is prepared jams, sauces, breads and only 15% fresh goods - fruits, vegetables, herbs). I completely wish the proportions were the other way around!
I am jealous of you Bay Area hounds as you have many more to choose from, with the Ferry Market at the top of the list (of which I am so jealous)!
I am so happy to partially retract my post. I had not been to or market lately because my first few trips early in the season left me feeling disappointed in the minimal offerings at the few farms represented. I returned today probably because of this thread and am SO GLAD I DID! Granted, there are still more watercolors and pottery than produce but the ratio felt more like 60% arts and crafts 40% food. The produce was absolutely gorgeous. I was so pleasantly pleased :)
In Eugene all the artists and crafters are on the other side of the street away from the farmers, growers and such. If you want tie dyed hippy stuff, that is where to go. All the local producers stick to one main area, this is by design of the board.
Some smaller markets may need the artists and crafters to get enough customers to visit. It takes a certain amount of vendors and customers to make the whole thing worthwhile for everyone.
The Eugene Saturday Market started out as arts and crafts and a bit of prepared foods in the early 1970s. My first wife got started there and now has a successful high quality hand built pottery line in Carmel, California. The farmers arrived several years later - both in the area and at the market. The pot growers were the first successful area small farmers, but they've never sold at the Saturday Market.
During the winter at the farm markets in NJ (the few that remain open year-round), there are more non-food-related stands in part because there's no little produce being grown by the farmers--so it's not space that could be had by a farmer, but space that no farmer was using. Between early spring and late autumn, the same stands are filled with farmers and produce. A lot of the farmers sell their own jams, jellies, and pies--do you have an issue with those stands too? Or the cheese makers? Or meat sellers? There are dairy goat farmers who also make soap. Some of these I can't even get at the local non-commerical grocers.
While I ignore most of the non-food items, it's friendlier than having the market completely empty. Next winter I hope to find that old 4" deep cast iron pan I coveted all winter.
On a related note, getting the non-cooks interested in attending the markets may simply be difficult. My husband doesn't mind, but our neice and nephew get bored quickly (5 & 2.5). Having things for them to ooh and ahh at while picking up produce works well for each of us. Of course they do help choose food, but it's not as exciting to them (or anyone else in our group) as it is to me.
Growing up, there were always more arts & crafts shows than farmer's markets, and now the reverse seems to be the case (better for me, worse for the artists). There should be space for both.
Actually, I do have problems when the number of jams, jellies, pies, cheesemakers, prepared food purveyers and meat sellers exceed produce farmers.
As mentioned, I can buy all of these items elsewhere.
Do I mind the berry grower also selling pies. Nope. as long as they are mainly selling berries. The apple grower selling vinegar, swell. Again it is proportion or you wind up with what enbell has 75% ...well, junk ... and only 25% produce.
Even in California the other vendors fill in the blanks in the winter and I have no problem with that ... as long as it is food.
So, when you go to your local supermarket, how are the husband and children entertained? There are times for carney events and children's sheer entertainment.
I personally don't mind when a food vendor sells versions of their own wares; Terhune is known for their apples, and also sells their cider and cider doughnuts. When they sell things that aren't even local (ie imported vegs), I am irked. I can get that elsewhere.
Bristol Farms sells their own fruit, and their own jams, and ciders--that too I have no problem with.
My thing is that if it's from their own farm--great! If it's not, no thank you. Yes, those things, like Smuckers if I ever wanted to get goo, I could get elsewhere. But Pies and Jams from one's own farm? That I can only get from the farm, or market. There are berries that can't be sold for whatever reason, and making those berries into jam and pies is a good thing--it preserves the harvest. For those of us too lazy or uninformed to do the same, I appreciate the effort (just as I appreciate getting preserves from my family members).
Ditto with cheese. I respect the cheesemakers. In VT my favourite cheese is Plymouth, and as far as I can tell, I can only get that at the Coolidge site, but maybe they've branched out. If the cheese makers are at a farmer's market, I'm happy--as long as they sell their own cheese, and not someone else's.
I believe we're mostly on the same page.
My husband, BTW, is entertained. He gets to taste food while we're at the market, and enjoy the picnic we have afterwards, from the produce, cheese, meat, and bread purveyors. The kids like that too. What do you do with the kids while you're at farmer's markets?
edit: As with what most people wrote, I go for food from the farmer's market. I don't care for the rest of the crap unless it's winter and I don't get that one cast iron pan from the person using up UNUSED space to sell old cast iron. I'm no longer in California, so I don't see it as an issue. If there's an issue with the farm markets no longer selling food at such markets when produce is actually available, that must be a local thing. Here in NJ, the farmers sell what they have at the farm markets for as long as they have produce to sell. It gets cold during the winter and not everyone has a greenhouse to make things year round. That's when the space is used for other stuff--it's not used in lieu of legitimate farmers wanting that space at that same time.
That's just the point, Lemons. There are MORE spaces than there are farmers at the Napa market. If anyone wants to sign up, I am sure Randall would love to talk to them, both for this year and next. Craftspeople and specialty vendors are filing in EMPTY spaces, NOT taking them away from farmers. That has been the point all along, which keeps going unheard. Let me try again: THERE ARE SPACES GOING EMPTY FOR FARMERS IN OUR MARKETS (INCLUDING NAPA). THEY DO GET FIRST CHANCE.
re: c oliver
It depends. The really good markets keep the non food vendors out. There will be the honey vendor selling beeswax candles, but that is as far as it goes. There will be more farmers than artisan bakers, cheesemongers, etc. As mentioned before, even the best markets up the jarred foods during winter.
As much as i like farmers markets, even for me it takes some effort to attend. It takes a special trip and time out of my day. It usually means more than one trip to do food shopping ... one for staples at a conventional market and one to the farmers market.
There is nothing more annoying than going to a farmers market for a head of lettuce and no one is selling it and I have to buy crummy, drowned by sprinklers, supermarket lettuce.
The market that I complained about was in Napa. Being in a prime-time agricultural area ... there's no excuse for that sad market. Even worse, there's no good local alternatives for that immediate area. If I lived there I would be forced to shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes or any other such market ... or drive out of the area.
That particular market had a ration of 1/4 produce, 1/4 craftspeople and 1/2 prepared food vendors... at the height of summer. I could find 5 stands selling baked goods and two selling cofffee, one selling tea, but only one stand selling lettuce.
I usually do shopping outside of Napa, but if the market was decent, I;d stop by when I was in the area. Now I just crossed it off my list and say a little prayer of gratitude that the markets near my home do what they are said to do ... sell produce from farmers.
I guess it is just there is no other good venue for farmers other than the farmers market. Craftspeople can sell at malls ... where I appreciate them since I'm in a mode for buying THINGS. They can sell on the internet. There are the tourist areas such as Fisherman's Wharf, constant street fairs, flea m markets, etc, etc,etc.
You can't buy produce on the internet ... well, you can but you will pay dearly, you can't hand select it and it isn't as fresh ... lots of that stuff sits in warehouses waiting to be shipped.
I guess my question is does the market itself limit the vendors, do they offer space first to growers? Our little one in Oregon has demand enough that by the middle of the summer, they're able to close a block of the adjacent street and move the arts and crafts people there. I'd also suggest that some people come for the socialness of running into friends, buying gifts, etc. and buy produce secondarily. (BTW, you're one of my SF heroes. Thanks for all you do.)
re: c oliver
Here in Portland we have a pretty large market Saturday AM. The majority is produce, followed by fresh local meat/seafood, flowers, sauces, jams, picklers, bakeries, and cheesemakers. The latter vendors must primarily highlight and emphasize local market product in their items or they are not admitted. Crafts are not present at all. I love it! It was named by Eating Well Magazine as among the top five nationally. http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/
I always take visitors there, and they never fail to be wowed.
Thing is, we have a prominent craft fair on the other side of downtown. So those who want that sort of thing are more than welcome to go there.
re: c oliver
Don't know about their rules, but they seem lax. Each market has its own rules the only thing uniting them is that basically to be considered a Certified Farmers Market they can only sell what they grow (that is the broad rule).
Some markets like the Ferry Plaza are very strict. They even control how much of certain produce is sold. If it is cherry season, only so many vendors can sell cherries. That is good and bad.
At the Napa market, for example, the week I went it was almost all cherries with little of other items.
It is bad, because I've picked up some amazing produce from vendors selling at other markets that because of seasonal glut Ferry Plaza would allow them to bring.. Ferry Plaza doesn't allow any non food vendors though some set up in an area across the street.
Some markets have separate craft, amusement areas, like those inflated jumpng houses for kids. Some mix them in. To me though, if is less than 50 % farmers, I kind of don't think much of the market or return often.
I wasn't even attempting to recite each and every rule. In order to get in there is a rigorous application process. I've heard it can be hard to get in. I think something like 90% of what they sell they must have grown. The remaining 10% must be clearly labeled and it too must be local. Unlike many so-called "farmers' markets" I've seen across the country, there are no lemons or oranges or other such items.
My favorite local market (Ballard, in Seattle) is packed with fruit and veggie stands, cheese-makers, bakers, meat and seafood stands, flower vendors, candy-makers, stands with flavored oils and vinegars and jams and jellies and salsas and saucers and spices, potted plant-sellers, homemade soap vendors, glass artists, jewelry-makers, street musicians, and the odd hotdog cart, fortune-teller, and local chef demonstrating something-or-other. There seems to be plenty of room for all of them and I would be very, very sorry to see any of them not there.
My local market caps craft and prepared foods at 18% of vendors. The market is very well organized with a strong leadership board of farmers/vendors elected by all market members. It doesn't bother me at all, the prepared foods and crafts are mostly made using local ingredients and materials. Many of the things, like hand spun and dyed yarn or goat milk soap, aren't be available anywhere else. Many of the craft vendors have been selling at the market since it started 30 years ago. If the market leadership didn't see craft and prepared food vendors as a valuable part of the market, they wouldn't be allowed.
If your local market seems to be craft-heavy, I would suggest talking to the market manager or whoever is in charge. If they really are turning away farmers to make space for other vendors and they know shoppers are aware and concerned, they might change the market rules.
i think the rule might apply to bigger cities, but "there are stores for that", certainly doesn't always apply. For a while there THE only place to purchase a good falafel , dolmade or samosa was at the local farmers market (which is still an hour away from me), for some reason.
While there are often plenty of items I have ZERO interest in buying anywhere , i'm more than happy to see that these small vendors are having the opportunity to set up somewhere where someone sees the stuff. Some stuff I want to buy, I can't get anywhere else, or would have to hop all over the place to find out who happens to be selling that oil, those dog biscuits, that soap etc.
The cheese that I am so particularly fond of, is only sold at the local market, and the producers are at least an hour or more in the opposite direction from me, I'd have to drive about 2.5 to get there. I like being able to get all my stuff in one shot.
Around here, many vendors travel from quite a distance (2hrs is not unheard of), to sell stuff. I see the farmer's markets as a catch all. And it is the fact that they are eclectic, that I love them. Otherwise, it would just be a farm stand.
Well put. One of the things I love about the Ithaca farmer's market (where I grew up, and where my parents still live) is that I can go, get some fresh made waffles or spring rolls for breakfast, buy produce & meat for dinner, sample some local cheeses, go to the craft stalls to buy my sister a birthday present, and then sit out by the lake and sip hot chocolate from the soup guy. There's a nice balance of different things, plenty of farmers (so I don't feel like I'm missing out on produce), and the crafts & art are all really nice, local stuff that I couldn't necessarily get elsewhere, not cheap crap. One thing I actually miss in New York is that while the Union Square Greenmarket is great for grocery shopping, there's little or nothing in terms of hot prepared foods. I love having breakfast at the Ithaca market, since there's so many choices and most of it is just delicious. I'd hate to have them kicked out in favor of yet another strawberry stand.
At least here in eastern Massachusetts, if there are non-produce vendors, they are there because we cannot get enough produce vendors and each town's market has to fight to keep what produce vendors it has. The non-produce vendors are not cannibalizing the produce vendors: they merely fill up what would otherwise be empty space, and thus are a value-add.
I am in Pennsyvania, just outside Philly. Unless you go further west, towards Lancaster, we don't have that many Farmers' markets. Several towns in the area are trying hard to develop a "sustainable foods" movement via a couple of local, Saturday Farmers' Markets. These have been successful, but they do have a number of non-food purveyors. I really don't mind, especially if those help to maintain the market, and if they are not the major attraction. I'm also happy to see the people with home-made items like honey, jellies and the like. One market has a wonderful stand with items from an artisan bakery. I can even put up with the guy selling home-made dog biscuits. What I would NOT like to see is having these Saturday markets turned into Flea markets with some produce added in.
I am sometimes irritated by the soap and crafts vendors, but I would not trade out those that sell breads, cheese, meats - I can prepare a well-rounded meal from what I pick up at the market.
My main source of irritation at my market is the dude selling pickles. He yells at everyone passing by his stand "No vinegar in my pickles!" or "You know you want to try one of MY pickles!" And after he's belted out all his annoying little phrases he picks up his trumpet and plays chldren's songs!!!!! The poor farmer, who has the stand beside him, is the nicest man and I want to pick up a squash and beat "The Pickle Guy" to a pulp just for his peace.
I feel better now for having shared. :)
I'll help you- we'll use of of those baseball bat sized zukes. There is this annoying Aussie vendor selling some stupid cakes hawking at the top of his lungs with what sounds to me an exaggerated accent "Best cakes in the world" etc. He is right next to my peanut roaster (unsalted and perfectly roasted- I like them dark) and I have to avert my eyes, have my change ready and buzz in and out like a hummingbird to avoid the "Miss, miss- taste our wares" directed at me. Aaah- that felt good to vent as well.
In general, my CFM is small and they allow the craft people once a month. They are gap fillers between stands that are usually well spaced. I do not like smelling soap or incense when I want to be smelling ripe berries and stone fruit! My apple vendor sells his dried slices and jellies and that makes sense to me. The crepe, tamale, kettle corn, etc vendors seem to be most frequented by young families trying to make a family morning outing of the experience so I can live with it. The much bigger CFM down the hill from me has gotten to the point of being almost 50/50 prepared versus produce. The prepared foods are all on one end with some seating. I do not think they take away from farmer slot availability, but they make it like a food fair and as a result the parking is so horrid that it deters me from shopping there.
I was curious about the California CFM rules, and found this:
Which basically says that the "other vendors" are not part of the farmers market at all, and are (or should be) operated separately. In Sonoma, that division is pretty clear - the farmstands are clustered together, with the crafts in another area, and prepared foods in yet another area. The crafts at this market are terrible, so I just ignore them, which is easy enough, since they are segregated.
But specifically about the Napa market, I wonder if some of the issues are with the uncertainty over that market. I wonder if they lost some of their farmers when no one knew where (or if) the market would be held this season? I haven't been, but it seems relatively likely.
Could be. The first time I went was late on the last day last year. There weren't that many farmers which surprised me as I would have thought Napa would have a lot.
Napa is not following those rules as the craftspeople are in the front. The put this one little vendor, one of the few selling vegetables, waaaay off in a corner away from everyone else. They didn't get much foot traffic.
Still, that's a good point. They might be trying to re-establish themselves. I do think it is silly they don't have it in the lot at Oxbow as this would be a more Ferry Plaza experiences where people could drop easily into the bakery, meatshops, fishmonger, cheeseshop and wineshop and do one stop shopping instead of having to walk a few blocks to get to them.
Personally, I think you ought to be a little more informed before you slam the Napa Farmers Market. The Copia went bankrupt, I have been told. Therefore the Farmer's Market could not stay there. The Farmers Market went in the best location they could find. The new manager is
Randall Dunn, Manager
P.O. Box 10822, Napa, CA 94581
When the Market started this year, the 34 fresh produce vendors included:
Big Ranch Farm
Gotelli & Sons
J & J Farms
Lucich Santos Farms
Marshalls Farm Honey
Moon & Stars
MorningSun Herb Farm
Resendiz Family Fruit
Rhodes Family Farm
RHS Farms (Shackelford)
Schletewitz Family Farm
Shooting Star CSA
Taylor Made Farms
The Neighborhood Nursery (Gamble)
Twin Peaks Orchards
Vine Village Inc.
The 26 Speciality Foods were:
Alexis Baking Co.
Annie the Baker
Atlas Peak Olive Oil
Biscotti di Bianchi
Drink the Leaf Selling bags
Elixir Olive Oil
Gold Rush Kettle Corn
Graham's Napa Valley Salads
Great Harvest Bread Company
Home Maid Ravioli Co.
Mi Fiesta Catering
Napa Valley Dog Food Company
Pica Pica Maize Kitchen
Ritual Coffee Roasters
Sampas (Alexandra Fochi)
The Model Bakery
The Smoked Olive
Tillerman Tea Serving Tea
and the 22 "crafters" were:
After The Gold Rush Jewelry
Creations By Frances
Edgeworks Sharpening Service
KJ Studios James
Lina M. Soaps
Muguette Renee Designs
Napa Massage & Bodycare
Napa Valley Apothecary
Napa Valley Au Natural
Nicole Lincoln Designs
Patti Wessman Glass
The Courtney Collection
Use It Up Wood
Yes, you will notice our name there in the "crafter" list. Unfortunately, the 3 hour round trip (and the gas), a 3 hour set-up and tear down of the display, and our current "senior" get up and go did not agree.
One of the main reasons farmers markets appeal to many art/crafters is because they are weekly, and like you and many other people, we need an income to survive. We cannot exist on the stipend allowed by the Social Security we paid into all of our lives. So even at our age, we must work, and work hard. And sell where we can, to the best of our abilities, in the locations allowed, as often as we can, to pay our bills which strangely keep showing up... like food, medicine, rent, utilities. Sound familiar? It's just like you, and the rest of America.
We did go to the meeting at the beginning of the year. You couldn't hope to meet a nicer guy than Randall. He greeted most by name, a long discussion was held about the market and how it would be run this year. And it was a discussion, with much input by the vendors.
I can guarantee the Randall would love to have twice, three or ten times as many produce vendors. My educated guess is that he has, and will, welcome any farmers who would like to participate. And I sincerely doubt that any have ever been turned away unless there was an extremely good reason, such as failure to come on time, having poor produce sanitation, or being dishonest in their transaction. Just out of curiosity, have you ever asked a farmer if they would rather not have the venue all to themselves. What was the response?
I am certain, if you take the time and effort to check with various farmers markets, they have current and continous openings for any farmers who would like to attend, and waiting lists for speciality foods and artists and crafters, as well as live entertainment. I am sure this is true at Napa, because this is what we were told when we applied.
If we remember the discussions at the opening meeting correctly (and I hope we are not speaking out of turn) the locations of where vendors were placed during this years shows were decided 1) what was humanly possible 2) what the various farmers requested. With the shape of the Wine Train lot, part of the positions were dependent on the size of the trucks that were needed to bring in the produce. Many produce people need their truck on-site during the market.
Most artists (ourselves included) do not find "flea markets" to be an appropriate place to sell our ware. Look at what is sold at flea markets, and then look at the hand-crafted porcelain we sell, for instance. It just does not fit in with the items cleaned out of someone's garage and the balloon animals. How do we know? We tried, more than once.
And someone mentioned "the crafters can sell at malls". Really? A mall that accepts artists and crafters for a weekly show? REALLY? That's wonderful, send us the names of the malls that welcome our ilk on a WEEKLY basis, and we will be happy to apply. Not just at the Christmas show, but week after week, month after month. And yes, many, many artist DO show at the special events held on rare occasions at the malls, when the stores have not prohibited the events as competition for the rare dollar in shopper's pockets. And our handmade vases and porcelain bowls do not fare well against WalMarts imports from the slave trade countries that can be sold for a fraction of what is needed to compete in this country.
Does this sound like toes being stepped on? You betcha. We have spent our entire adult lives learning our craft, with a lot of investment of time, inventory, equipment, and very hard work. Not quite the same as the plastic toy or ripped-off CD at the flea market.
Would we rather be in galleries? Of course. But not every artist can afford the commissions involved, and having their inventory basically being "on loan" to subsidize another business. And if the gallery goes out of business, as many have lately, we lose our inventory at that location.
Do we go to art shows, art festivals, exhibits, etc. Of course. We invest hundreds and hundreds in admission fee months in advance, get juried in on the value of our art, pay our insurance, set up our displays and pray it doesn't rain. And that we make enough to pay our expenses and have a little left. We attend as venues as we can. Why? Because we do not inflate the cost of our ware beyond what our communities can afford, we want you to USE what we sell and enjoy the touch and feel of a wonderful piece of art made by human hands.
Do we want to go to flea markets and such? Not really! Perhaps being a bit snobish, we would prefer not to be set up in a mall beside the popcorn stand and the chotzkies imported from slave labor businesses overseas, certainly. In truth, that simply is NOT a venue that fits our products, as well. Fine art and crafts do not sell in that setting.
Many high-quality farmers markets have artists and crafters, many have music, and fresh prepared food, all in addition to the produce. Most markets have a ration they use to determine how many art/craft vendors are allowed, how many specialty food vendors, and how many produce farmets. It is normally weighted heavily on the side of the farmers, and that is appropriate and fair to all.
If you don't want to see local artists or specialty food vendors at your farmers markets, I would suggest doing a google search and find the ones that are farm fresh produce only. There are many. Go there and be happy.
But to turn your nose up in distain because a local artist or special food maker is also participating under the terms allowed by the rules of of the farmers market, that is so unfair. We are not "crowding" a single farmer out, we are simply doing our jobs, expanding the attraction and interest in the market and hopefully make it more enjoyable for all who attend (while we are, yes, trying to make a living).
And while you are at it, you might ask the farmers if the rest of the vendors purchase the produce... you will find they are excellent customers and help keep the market in business.
Um, I've been to 90 percent of the farmers markets in the Bay Area, many of the flea markets, most farms, know the farmers who sell out of trucks (legally and illegally ... I brake for produce) and a good many little street urban produce stands.
So when I critisize Napa, I feel qualified to do so.
It sucks big time compared to the rest of the Bay Area farmers markets.
I am well aware Copia went bankrupt as it deserved to given the way it was run. HOWEVER, Oxbow has a HUGE parking lot and lots of sidewalk space around it. Not to mention stalls that hug the building that were originally made for farmer stands. So you tell me why the farmers are three blocks away.
One would hope that Mr. Randall is just new and grows into the job. What I saw wasn't very good.
While you have a nice list there, it is not who was actually there. Some of those vendors I know for a fact do not appear at Napa as I know them on a chat basis from other area markets. Some of the others move in and out with the seasons. it looks impressive but it is not accurate.
I guess what set me off on my local board is that ... I'm sorry ... how crafts people make their living is none of my concern. I know this will make me seem like i have a black heart, but as I mentioned elsewhere, you have a lot of other venues to peddle your wares. It was the sense of entitlement to be there that seems wrong. This is a farmers market. You are not farmers.
As far as prepared food vendors, because I know the local farmers market scene so well, I often steer them to markets that don't have enough or any prepared food ...hey, I like a nice snack while shopping ... I just don't want it to be all snacks and no produce.
And ... how insane is it that a bakery three blocks away is taking up space at the Napa market?
It doesn't matter a bit to me about what famers think of craft stands. What I think of as a customer is what matters. I am well aware of the camraderie that goes on between vendors at a market ... the truffle maker who trades for fruit ... the prepared food stand that exchanges breakfast and lunch for fresh tomatoes ...etc No one is saying the people there aren't swell. It is just some aren't approriate ... or rather too many of them are inappropriate.
In keeping with that, perhaps you should give the new Metreon 'farmers market' in SF a try. It seems primarily prepared food and crafts with a few farmers thrown in to keep the name. That doesn't bug me too much because in an area with a lot of office workers. The different prepared food stands are a good thing in a city with too many over-priced lunch spots. Its primary focus isn't really veggies.
If Napa is unable to find enough farmers, I am more than happy to mention the market to some of my favorite farm vendors at other markets. Some of these farmers just appear at limited locations and could use another place to sell.
I'll repeat this at the expense of seeming like someone with a soul of dust. The plight of the craftsperson is not my concern. I've visted a few countries overseas. Many of those farmers markets keep the food and the crafts separate. The vendors in those countries seem to have figured things out.
ONE MORE TIME
- prepared food vendors ... like them ... want some ... just more of those than farmers turns me off
- crafts people ... sure ... set up nearby ... just stay out of the produce area so I don't have to walk around them to get to the produce I want to buy
If you think you have it hard as craftspeople ... think of farmers ... they have less opportunities than you. Give them a break and let them have their space to sell.
The names on the list are the name of those who signed up to participate.
I would suggest you ask Mr. Randall why they are not at the Oxbow. I am sure there are reasons. However, I am not privy to those decisions, and neither were you.
By your own admission, you showed up the last day and the last hour of the season. Of course not every vendor was there to greet you.
We are "entitled" to be at a farmers market because we are welcomed there by the rules, regulations, and the people who operate the Farmers Market. And if all customers shared your feelings, the markets would change their rules to exclude everyone but a "farmer". Fortunately, other customers do not agree. That's what makes the world turn. When you don't like a business, don't go. But for you to state that it should be run by your rules just doesn't fly.
You are welcome to be on the internet because the rules say you can. I would not think of telling you that you should not be allowed to do what you do.... even if I disagreed with your ability to write or your declaration of being an expert in your field. That is why readers decide, and customers of farmers markets operate in the same way.
We live a few miles from Clearlake, Perhaps the Metreon market is very nice, but it is beyond our limits. Unless you would consider paying for our gas? And the four hour + drive?
You seem to feel there are places just begging for artists and craftspeople to show up at their door each week and peddle their wares. However, your belief has no contact with reality. In Northern California, there are extremely few places where artists and craftspeople can show on a weekly basis. And because you do not like them at the farmers markets does not take away the right of these people to make a living at venues where they are welcome, encouraged, and allowed by the rules to show.
I am certain if any of your readers would like to start a weekly venue anywhere in Sonoma, Marin, Napa or Lake county with artists and craftspeople in mind, they would be immediately flooded with applications, and have their pick of the litter.
What bothers me is the distain you seem to show.. knock-offs, knick-knacks, etc. And your comment about the sense of entitlement...
Perhaps you would like to start a blog regarding farmers? Are the people with a small patch of organic vegetables and a few lovely fruit trees "farmers"? Are they entitled to be at these shows? How about the corporations with mega-farms, who hire people at ungodly prices and horrible work conditions and turn around and ship their products to our local farmers markets. Are they farmers?
Trust me. I do know a farmer when I meet one. I grew up on an Indiana farm, and my father worked long and hard to be a success. Ever heard of "Country-Gentleman sweet corn"? If not, you haven't tasted good sweet corn.
So, by virtue of being a "farmers daughter", I claim the right for us to show at the farmers market. Just like you claim the right to write to do what you do, since you claim the expertise to decide what all customers might like...
With that said, I have to go live my life and fix a meal for the potter I married.... thank you for the conversation, and I wish you luck with your employment as well. Hopefully there will be enough people who choose to agree, or disagree, with you to keep your columns interesting. It 'tis what keeps the world turning!
Well, if the software business tanks, I'll see if I can set up a stand at a farmers market to push website design ... or maybe a farmers market internet cafe.
I am not a professional writer, just another poster like you. I just diverted this conversation here so it wouldn't detract from the Bay Area board which is restrited by the rules of this site to reporting about food.
Further up in the post, the rules for craftspeople in Calfiornia were quoted from the official rules. Striclty speaking, Napa is in voilation of those.
My report of the Napa market was based on this years visit at the beginning of summer. It was a second chance because last year was the last day of the market which I chose not to report until I revistied. It hasn't improved.
So, yes. I won't visit it again for a while even when in the area. I'll check it out next year to see if it is any better. The people who live in that area are more or less captive since there is nothing better in town, though if I'm ever there on a Tuesday, I'll check that out.
But think of that. How many other people don't want to be bothered because there's not enough variety of produce there and decide instead to spend their bucks at Whole Fodos or some other place. It takes potential customers away from you as well.
"This is a farmers market. You are not farmers. "
Here's the heart of the issue. What is the purpose of a Farmers' Market? Literally farmers only? I appreciate your desire for produce, produce and more produce. You are a purist and I agree that the more farmers at the market, the better.
But the best outdoor, apparently "farmers' markets" I've been to around the world also offer shoes, bras, tablecloths, crafts, cheese, and so on. They are diversified markets the likes of which I hope we will see one day in this country as well. We seem to want to categorize everything. Farmers here. Shoes there. Bread there. Life isn't like that. I appreciate being able to buy earrings and soap and plants at the Napa market. Why would I want to drive somewhere else for that stuff?
There may be a dearth of farmers and overabundance of crafts/prepared food. Personally, it is the prepared food that bugs me more. Are crafts/prepared food pushing farmers out of markets? I certainly hope not. Is there evidence of that? Let's hope crafts/prepared food are acting as "fillers" until we catch up in numbers of farmers.
re: Junie D
One more thing, and I am specifically referring to the Napa market. The farmers' market serves the community it is in. The Quakers (now joined by the Unitarians) - God love them ;-) - have a "peace table" on Tuesdays. The Master Gardeners offer advice. The Water District gives suggestions on saving water. Somebody hands out bus schedules. Developmentally disabled adults sell their artwork. At various times Napans have been able to register to vote or sign up to host exchange students. All of this could be considered "fluff" detracting from the farmers. I'd say it creates connections and community and is more wholistic and sustainable than a market for farmers only.
didnt see this brought up, but has anyone bothered to think that maybe this distribution of crafts to produce ratio is what the market(and by market, I mean the economic market) wants? I mean, if the majority of the customers didnt want all the dreamcatchers and soap-on-a-rope stuff, it wouldnt sell, and they would go away.
Uh, again, all vendors are chosen to participate in the Napa Farmers Market (and many other venues) by the quality of their work. Many venues will not allow work done by anyone other than the artist/crafter/vendor, and most require the seller to be the person who produced the work.
While I have seen many fine, hand-sewn purses and garments that I know the maker worked very hard to design, I have never seen a "knock off". (But then, I don't shop at the places that sell purses for thousands of dollars, so perhaps I am just naive.) I do know that many people appreciate the opportunity to purchase a hand-crafted item, or food created locally. Why does this irritate you so much?
I have included a photo of some porcelain bowls my husband as thrown. Do you find them to be offensive? Thankfully, others have not.
Shaw Pottery Studio
19252 Blue Rock Road Hidden Valley, Lake, CA
I don't think the original posting is about rworange feeling craft is offensive. Simply his/her (?) opinion that a farmers market should be about produce.
I understand your frustrations about lucrative, accessible venues. I have supported myself as a craftsperson more years than I care to say. There are very few craftspeople who can support themselves just from their local market...most of us must travel, wholesale, teach, consign, etc. Each venue has it's pluses and minuses, and not every gathering of people needs to be accessible to each group in need of an audience. Personally, I will only sell at a juried event which has a sole focus of fine art/craft. Those attending are actually interested in the work and more serious, creating a more receptive environment.
So although I feel your pain, I have to say I'm with rworange on this. When I'm at a farmers market I'm there primarily for food items. If the mix gets too heavy on non-food items then the market will be of much less interest to me.
I do not disagree about the venues. My husband and I are both in our 60s and both of us are disabled. He has been a potter since the 1970's. In our younger days, we did everything you do. My husband was a teacher of high school and college classes as well. This in addition to running heavy equipment for the county where we lived. Plus building his own kiln and much of his tool inventory. Try doing all of the above in addition to being a paraplegic as a result of a stroke caused by a head injury when he was 20. After his stroke, he went back to college, got two degrees (with no assistance physically or from financial aid) and went on to teaching, as well as running bulldozers, backhoes, you name it. Yes, even tho he is, and was at the time, a paraplegic. In fact, one county commisioner remarked one day (as my husband was running a bulldozer to open up a river bed) that he did a great job, especially considering he was a cripple. Amazing, yes...
Try living on Social Security with rent taking more than half of your income. Add many medical bills and high prescription costs. We manage our home, our pottery, inventory, automobile, medical equipment, high gas and electric bills because of both pottery and medical equipment. We do everything by ourselves each month, without help from others or funding in any way. (Not that we haven't tried, but we are about $80 higher in income than most programs for the needy allow. We did have some wonderful friends and family who helped us move our kiln and get set up, thankfully.
We lost our home last year as a result of the economy, and because we had to resign our full time jobs where we lived. We only did that because we absolutely refused to perform some duties that we felt would have been both immoral and illegal in the operation for the company where we both worked together.
That is the reason we now live in a new location, we moved where we could find a home to rent that we could afford. We have no local contacts, and know no other people in the art world in our present home, we had to leave all of that behind.
In spite of this, we do what we need to do to survive. We enter every juried show within our driving range that we can manage out of our remaining income. We sell at every event we can find in our area. We work in the uncooled pottery with the outside temperatures over 100 every day, unless we are firing the kiln, the it goes up from 100 to more than 115 inside, which makes it just too hot to hold on to the tools.
It would be wonderful to say we going to enter this show, or that one, but not this one because it hasn't the sole focus we desire. Certainly, it would be nice to do that. We do not have your options, unfortunately. And we do not have any income left after our bills to pay for more than one juried show at a time, since we are just starting our lives over at our age (I am 67).
We are not whining, or asking for pity or sympathy. I am simply pointing out that not everyone has your options. Therefore we sell everywhere we are welcome and permitted by the rules and regulations.
All I can suggest is that you go to the markets you wish, ignore the vendors you want to, and just buy the food you desire. But we will continue to go to the markets to sell because we need the income simply to live each week.
But trust me, there is NOT a single farmer that is missing an opportunity to sell at the Napa show because their spot is taken by a craftsperson. There are plenty of openings that are vacant. And no, not all markets belong to the
CFM. Even the CFM, however, allows other vendors to participate.
And there would probably be even less traffic at the market if there were only the few farmers in the lot , since that would be all that is left if you agree with what as has been presented.
If you would like to send us an e-mail personally, I would be more than happy to send you a link to our website, which we have had for years. It does have photos of the display we had at the Santa Rosa market. That way you can see the type of ware that is sold (not only by us) at markets such as Napa, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Clearlake, St. Helena, Calistoga, just to name a few.
And as I mentioned in a post I sent a few minutes ago, not ALL markets belong to the CFM. From what I can tell by the website, the Napa market used to belong when they were located at the now bankrupt Copa, but it doesn't look as tho they beong now. And... even CFM does NOT prohibit other types of vendors, but only where they can set up, if I am not mistaken. Please check the facts before making such a flat statement, for I believe your comments are totally incorrect. And if the facts support you, let me know. If they don't, let everyone else know, please.
The Napa Market is struggling to survive after their move. Randall seems like a very nice person who is doing everything he can to promote the market. I am sure he would appreciate all the useful suggestions he might receive from your readers, and certainly the market would appreciate all the business.
One thing I simply do NOT understand. You say you will not go back because you don't think they have enough farmers selling produce. If your example is followed by others, who will buy the produce brought every week by the farmers who belong? I find that frame of mind amazing.
Our little market at Hidden Valley Lake sometimes has four or five vendors OF ANY TYPE. But the community still tries to support it and help out their neighbors by buying the freshest produce available in this area at this time.
And as far as not finding a particular item of produce, certainly people should be aware that all produce is seasonal. When stone fruit is in season, there are large amounts of stone fruit for sale. And there are times (as this farmer's daughter can tell you) when the supplies of a particular vegetable are lower than others.
But thank you for giving us a chuckle with your remark that there are many more locations for us to sell than farmers. I will double-down guarantee you I can find a stall selling farm fresh produce quicker than you can find a stall with a potter with a hand-crafted porcelain vase. And if you find a farmers market with that vase for sale, there will be a head of lettuce within the market!
Great posts rj. I usually agree with rworange but not on this subject. Personally with the way the arts and crafts fairs have turned into booths of brita filters and such, I am more than happy to see artists at the farmers markets. Especially having done some retail baking for a short time I appreciate anyone who wants to produce food and sell it at market. The policy with grocery stores is really hard on the independent bakers, etc.
My sister and her husband run a CSA in WI. They also participate at farmers markets. During the winter my sister works on a variety of crafts so she often has both items at her booth/table.
Generally those who organize the markets determine how much the booths run and who/ what mix of vendors they want. Can you find out who runs the market and contact that individual/group to express your preferences? Whoever that is will probably be able to explain how/why they include those they do. My guess would be that they have a minimum number of booths/tables for farm produce and take first come, first serve within certain parameters for the others.
I prefer fresh produce, herbs, flowers at markets myself. I don't mind crafts but hate to see/smell animal products (I'm vegan).
I guess the markets selling live chickens wouldn't make you happy. I contemplated it ... only $6 for a rather large 'fresh' bird ... but I just cannot see myself offing a bird and then gutting and defeathering it. I freaked out recently when I bought a live oyster and realized it meant killing the thing. It sort of highlights the hypocrisy of eating meat, but not being able to personally dispatch it. Don't know what I'd do with a cow staring me in the face.
well, it's a fact that only 1% of americans regularly shop at their local farmer's markets.
so, i think that there are a lot of farmer's markets that are trying to broaden their appeal, with the artsy craftsy or the funnel cakes or the kid-friendly pony rides or whatever. plus there are some areas where there aren't a lot of food-oriented people. i think FMs in these areas might have a really tough time getting a *regular* crowd to come out each week to support the FM.
the problem is that when there's only produce, people get tired and hungry/thirsty and leave and have breakfast elsewhere; or, when there's too many watercolor artists and not enough array of local stone fruits, the food-oriented people get huffy and don't stop to see if the stuff that *is* there is any good, they go off in a huff. it's probably a very hard balancing act for a FM to try to appeal to everyone at once, in a way that gets them to return regularly to that FM.
a produce farmer at a FM will sell a regular weekly customer maybe $5/week in fresh herbs. not big bucks but steady. the watercolor lady might sell a big piece every other week and otherwise scrape by selling note cards. some people go to farmer's markets and just look around and maybe buy a cup of coffee every week and then i suppose they go heat up a lean cuisine plastic tray at home-- weird. buy some produce, doofuses! but ideally, there's probably some cross-pollination of customers-- the foodistas may walk past the basketweaver for 3 months in disgust, & then one day they realize a relative's birthday is the next week, and these baskets are actually really nice. . .
sorry for the rambling post, but i was the same way about a FM local to me that people complain is a little too artsy/craftsy. i'd ignore all but the produce vendors. for months. then almost by accident(al design, i'm sure) i looked at the handmade soaps and got hooked. then i realized the person selling yarn was selling *her own* sheep's yarn and wool and wool products-- but also the meat too. then i started to look at everything a little closer. some of the artsy craftsy is lame and does not appeal to me, but a lot of it is either 1) pretty cool 2) well-made 3) unique. i don't buy the earrings every week (i buy produce every week, duh)-- but i'd consider buying the occasional pair of earrings/fill in blank at the FM if i needed to give a gift and wanted something unique. that way i don't have to make a separate trip to go to an overpriced boutique or a horrible mall. so mainly, i don't have a huge problem with craftspeople at FMs, you can skip over them if that's not what you're shopping for or you're just really not interested and get to the meat & potatoes, and honey and chard and mushrooms.
i do agree that if the market seems more than 1/2 crafts, it does start to lose that FM cache with me though, fwiw. and i hate the stands that just sell one thing like flaxseed. oh, and that panpipe dude at the st. paul farmer's market, hawking his cheesy cover cds--i *really* can't stand his music, and i hate that i can't get away from it because it's amplified over the whole middle of the market. i *really* hate crap like that ;-P
Actually for what seems like negative reponses to rjshaw, it never occorred to me that there might be something at these craft stands other than junk. Actually plan to check out their pots should I ever cross paths with them at another farmers markets.
Once again, it is just about having enough produce. When I lived in Southern California many of the farmers markets in my area were more like flea markets and if that was my first experience with a farmers market, i would have never gone to another. Its about balance.
Our national farmers markets association would not permit craft stalls on an "approved" market. And they are the better for it.
However, my nearest (and biggest) market is not approved by the association and does permot craft stalls. However, it keeps them together off to one side of the market. A reasonable compromise I reckon.
jfood only wishes he had this problem. He looked at the list that someone posted on the participants at this FM and for someone to complain about some A&C people filling in the empty booths is just frightening. This is sort of like Ivanka Trump wanting more jewelry or mak-up.
In jfood town the FM has about 20 stalls; half are veggies, then some meat, some dog treats, plus pesta/bread, flowers and hmmmm, that's about it. He can go through it in about 10 minutes. There is more attention paid to the dogs wondering around (yippee!!) than the limited supply of veggies.
So you should appeciate the number of FMs the quality of fresh veggies and if they need to fill the booths with some high quality A&Cs go for it. It is a win-win. The shoppers can see other high quality items and the FM fills their booths.
Jfood thinks you gotta lighten up and be more inclusive in your feelings toward the A&C'ers.
As mentioned jfood, that was a list of farmers that MIGHT be interested ... not as it was presented a list of farmers who were AT the market.
Ten minutes would have been good. I walked through tis market in 5 minutes.
To tell you the truth, I can't really tell you if they were high-quality crafts because I ignore this stuff and this market was a waste of what little time I spent on it. There were actually about 9 farmers there, seven of which were selling the same varieties of strawberries and cherries. Still sound good to you?
After all of this, I really don't have such a gripe with arts and crafts. We have so many farmers markets in California that I avoid the ones with too much non-food stuff.
Where this started was I was reporting on the Napa market and said I thought it was lacking in comparison to most of the other Bay Area farmers markets. Being in Napa, I find this surprising.
Anyway, one of the arts and crafts vendors jumped in and veered the conversation in their right to be there.
I could see this taking a non food turn on the SF board, so I posted this here to divert the non food conversation.
Actually, because it was not a food vendor, I didn't think it through. That person was actually violating site rules and I should have just reported them to the mods.to have that post deleted. I would think the same rules that apply to restaurants hyping themselves and getting defensive with posters on this site would apply the same to non food vendors.
It seems some of the Napa people ...and the people of Napa do march to their own drummer ... are happy with that market. Maybe they haven't seen others. Don't know. Then there is the fact that someone new is running the show there. Last year the market wasn't that exciting, but there was a nice diversity of produce. There was one bakery table, one tea vendor. It wasn't exciting but it was respectable.
I guess the main thing is to make the locals who shop there every week happy. If it was my only market, I'd be taking action to improve it.
A market I HATED ... thought it was the worst in the Bay Area ... lousy, wilted produce, mainly Asian veggies ... just blossomed since I visited it a few years ago. It is in one of the poorer areas in the Bay Area, but it grew to meet the needs of the community. The Asian veggies are stellar now, the prices the lowest in the Bay Area, there is a nice diversity of produce. There is even a chicken vendor where you can get a large squacking chicken for $6. Flats of 2 1/2 dozen eggs are $4 ... probably from one of the chickens staring back at you.
However, people are there to feed themselves. So there's about 16 produce vendors, two non food stands, a fried chicken wing vendor (not related to chicken man), a taco truck and the ever-present kettle corn.
Perhaps the people in the Napa area need a social outing more than produce ... or perhaps it will evolve. Anyway, I'll just not bother with in in favor of better to me markets.
IThere is sort of karma though ... I was going to a restaurant in another town a few days ago. It turns out it was the night of the farmers market. The restaurant was located on the block with the craft vendors. I got out of the car and chuckled. Nothing but crafts booths for a block and a half ... with about another block of prepared food vendors.
To complete the scene, they didn't even have live music. They had a DJ spinning Disco music at top volume. I kid you not ... "YMCA" and "In the Navy" blared into my nice little restaurant ... followed by Donna Summer, "I will survive". I was thinking ... maybe not.
Yeah. As long as you keep Wall Street, lobbyists and big money out of it
Though sadly ... not even that. There's a reason the same produce vendors appear over and over at all the markets.
I know a few vendors who are no longer selling at the farmers markets opting instead to sell from their farms and/or to restaurants or other venues.
There's a whole political thing going on at some of these markets ... and where politics gets involved ... well. There are some vendors I will never buy from because of some of the stuff they've pulled. Like I said, I like produce and chat with the vendors.
There is also the case of ... if you build it they will not come. There is one market that was amazing when it started in town.
It was in a neighborhood devoid of supermarkets, abandoned to the corner liquor stores. There is one ghetto market in the area, selling unidentified cuts of meat by the box ... 20 lbs for $15. The groceries are overpriced. If it is not a potato, the produce is old and rotten. One unfortunate winter squash actually had dust on it. THe owner must have been out of his mind when he bought that.
Anyway, this market starts two years ago and is beautiful. Organic produce at below supermarket prices for conventional food. There's even a booth with school kids selling produce they grew. The prepared food vendors are all unique and neighborhood people showing off their cooking skills. The one craft booth was worthy of that name with hand-carved wooden figurines ... all affordable.
There's even a booth by the people who run the market educating people about organic food and giving out recipes,etc.
I go back this year and there are two stands left ... one defiant farmer who refuses to give up and a jam maker whose $5 jams beat many of the fancy markets across the bridge selling jellies at $10 or more a jar.
I am one of two customers there ... at prime time. Yet across the street thhe 99 store which also sells food, has a packed parking lot and people standing in line at the checkout. Even though the organic local produce matches the prices of the 99 cent stuff grown in all corners of the world which is grown who knows how.
You have to meet the needs of the nabe.
AGAIN, this is incorrect. This was a list of everyone, farmers, speciality foods and artists and crafters who had signed up to participate in Napa Farmers Market. And since you were there exactly once during the year, I do not understand how you can state "this is a list of farmers that might be interested". I was at this meeting, you were not. I received the list from the manager of the market. Everyone who had signed up received the same list.
Not every farmer comes to every farmers market. On the list, there were dates checked for each date the farmer or vendor intended to appear. Again, by your own statement, you only went through this market in 5 minutes, on the last show of the year. This makes you an authority on who came for the entire year? Each week?
So again, you are innacurate in your statements. Please check your information BEFORE YOU POST!
And once again read my replies. This is about the third time that I have said I was there more than once and not only on the last day of the year. As I said, I didn't think much of the market on the visit last year so I didn't report that visit. It didn't get better on my visit prime-time this year, in fact it wasn't as diverse.
I see some of the vendors on your list at other markets and have asked them if they were going to Napa. They have said they put their names on the list but some didn't want to be bothered.
That is true of every farmers market. People sign up. They don't show. I never said that every farmer came to every market. However, the way the list was originally posted gave some readers the impression that it was way more vibrant a market than the actuality of my most recent visit.
First - context: my primary FM is at the SF Ferry Building.
I am there for the produce and some of the prepared wares. I love being able to pick up my locally made cornmeal crusts at the same time I'm picking up the toppings. But I do sincerely appreciate that the arts & crafts folks are across the street. I am not often in the market for their wares but I do like to look on occasion. And I would love it if the coffee and food vendors could be separated. That would be AWESOME. Less strollers and tourists waiting in line for Blue Bottle to navigate around so I can get to those gorgeous Zee peaches.
So while I agree that farmers should be the majority at the markets, I would miss the cheese people and the people selling local dried fruit.
And please keep the arts & crafts across the street.
From a different side of the country, we attended a dinner at which the local honcho for a farmers market gave a talk. Apparently there are too many people who want to sell at her FM, so she decided on who can sell there, and works very hard to get a ballance of farm produce, artisan breads, cheeses and arts and crafts.
We had a Duh! moment. First that one person was given so much power, second that this very seasonal market would omit local farmers so that non-farmers could sell.
I'm still uncertain of how I feel, but I've enjoyed reading this.
And I long for the acres of a market in Houston when the produce arrived by 18 wheeler and where, on a Sunday afternoon, I turned down a huge box of banannas for $3 because I couldn't conceive of using them up or even finding enough neighbors to give them to.
For the past 35 years I've only lived and worked in different places where big, vivid, diverse markets filled with hundreds of booths and sellers selling every kind of fruit, vegetable, spice, fresh fish and seafood, salted & dried & smoked fish, meat, live and dead animals, not all domestic, cheeses, breads, noodles, grains, flours, and more were the norm. Most such markets have lots of little food stalls with good inexpensive food. And there are areas with the bright clothing, torpedo bras; hardware, some homemade, and on and on. Crowded, muddy and slimy in parts at times, … but good hearted movement, bartering, making jokes with your fave vendor or suki, …
So far I’ve only wanted to live and work in such places. I love the US, working there for short periods, have my retirement lots to build on. But how do I go from teeming markets full of everything to small, expensive over hyped “farmers’ markets” that may have too many A&C vendors?
I have read through this thread. It seems to me that the initial premise of this discussion in the OP, that non-food (such as A&C) stalls are taking away space from farmers who would otherwise occupy them, is fundamentally flawed. While there may be (rare?) cases where this is true due to rigid physical space constraints, I think farmer's market operators are like any other businessmen--if there is more demand for space than they have capacity, they will increase capacity (in this case, the selling area and the number of stalls). In fact, they will see this trend developing and add capacity so it is there to rent when the customers show up. In the end, I seriously doubt that farmers being "pushed out" by these other operators is really a serious problem--just about any qualified farmer who wants to sell produce can rent a stall in just about any on-going market and start selling; the presence of these other sellers is not reducing the amount of farm produce being sold. In fact, it may be increasing produce availability/sales because a diverse market also brings some additional buyers who came for the other stuff but buy produce too since it's there.
As the discussion goes along the focus seems to shift more to a "I just don't like non-food vendors at FM's where I shop, and no one else should either" type of rant. Well, everyone is entitled to his preferences, but no one is entitled to impose them on those who don't share them. In the real world of business, the vast range of buyers will determine what is being marketed, and how. If there are A&C vendors (or sellers of torpedo bras--thank you Sam) in these places, it must be because many folks want them there and are voting with their pocketbooks. Similarly, if there are enough folks who want to shop in more focused "food only" venues, and farmers who want to sell in them, some operators will read the tea leaves correctly and such a sub-group of markets will come into existence to cater to that demand. And in fact this has happened and there are such markets. Of course, this sub-group will comprise only a portion of the markets out there, and maybe none would happen to be really conveniently located to suit a particular individual, but c'est la vie; sometimes you just have to suck it up and go with the flow. Nobody said life was easy.
In short, IMO all this is much smoke and very little substance.
I myself love the farmers markets as well. About "crafters" taking up space and away from the farmers this is not true. The farmers always get "first dibs'. There are not enough farmers to fill the space avaliable. It is easy enough to check with the coordinators of the farmers market venues to get the real facts. So before people start BASHING the non food vendors they should check out the TRUE facts. There are so many spaces left over after the farmers book spaces, that if the city doesn't fill the spaces up with non food vendors there will not be any FARMERS MARKET!
I also hate having these types of vendors at farmers markets. In my hometown, it was easy to go straight to the farm to get our produce. The street markets were mainly for arts and crafts, in addition to prepared foods. That's the ideal situation for me. When I lived in Italy and Spain I never saw an arts and crafts vendor at a market at all, though there were vendors selling clothes, housewares, etc. in VERY obviously different sections of the markets (oftentimes across a trafficked road). When I lived in Mexico there were seperate markets for handicrafts and food (at least in my neighbourhood... obviously if you went to World's Second-Largest Indoor Market Right Downtown you would find all sorts of vendors together). However, in my current city the nearby farmers market are arranged totally randomly: produce, meat, body lotion, produce, hand-woven dog leashes, dairy, produce, magical crystal earrings, produce, meat, WINDCHIMES (*$#$#)... IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. The only non-farm stand that I can stand (no pun intended) is the one that takes order for firewood, because they burn wood onsite and it reminds me of the wood stove we had as a child.
I haven't read all of the comments here, but it seems from what I have read that there ar two different problems. There are craft vendors and there are people selling junk. I am all for the farmers at the market selling prepared foods, jelly, cheese, etc, because as someone said, you can make a complete meal out of what you buy, and in many cases, the money these farmers make on the prepared goods is what allows them to rent the stand in the first place. The sheep' cheese vendor who also sells handmade yarn is being smart in my opinion, because she is maximizing the profits from her stall and in doing so making enough money to support her cheese business. If the goal is to support local farming, I don't see what the problem is.
On the other hand, I completely don't get the people selling purses and other things that have nothing to do with farming..
I have been a designer for over 20 years and I started doing the farmers markets before they were popular.
I do agree that the mangers need to qualify art and hand made items. I am a jeweler and see 90% of jewelry at the markets are an import, that is selling at wal-mart prices. The part I hate the most is the venders claim they make it. They have no idea that the fake stamping 925 and fresh water pearls are not the real deal. It makes it hard to sell a quality item, as you all know, you get what you pay for.
I think a good farmers market has 75% in food related items. Yet they need to have craft vendors because farms can not always be there. I fell that I supported the markets when times were hard and off season,and now I am left out in the cold.
The markets now only except people that live in there area, as before I traveled North America promoting my art through farmers markets. The is no room for a jeweler as the imported jewelry have taken the spots.
I do resent that people do not value what I do, and feel I should be only in a craft show. Most of the people at the craft shows are only there for entertainment and do not buy. Not knowing that the craft show cost me $350.00 or more for a booth.
It took many years to develop my trade and I would love to of stayed with it till I retired, but now at 55 I am getting retained into a new career as I no long can make a living selling my art.
I adore farmers' markets and buy lots of fresh produce, cheese, smoked fish, spices, juice, pasta, bread, etc. I enjoy seeing food-related products like cutting boards, food-related greeting cards, etc. I also enjoy looking at the high-quality crafts like earrings, pottery, etc.
If there is something I'm not interested in (like the dozen plus bakeries) - I keep walking, no big deal. If the produce market doesn't please me - I prefer buying organic produce for instance - and if a market, Jack London in Oakland for example, doesn't have much I won't go there when I need a lot of produce. They do have a great view, fantastic sauerkraut juice, fresh nettle bucatini and other treats. We are very lucky in Northern Calif to have a plethora of farmers' markets and I like rotating where I go. Some folks rave about the Alemany one in SF - I thought there were too many prepared food vendors and barely anything organic. I enjoyed a tamal and hit another market.