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Aug 10, 2009 10:41 AM

Standards for local farmers markets

I usually go to the Arlington market, which I know has requirements that all items be grown/baked/made within a certain radius. This past weekend, I went to the Falls Church market for a change. I went to the crepe stand and saw a peach crepe on the menu. I would have ordered that, except that my six-year-old demanded we share the red white and blue crepe with strawberries, white chocolate chips, and blueberries. I'm glad she made me switch because, after I ordered, I saw the person in back whip out the can opener for a huge Costco-sized can of Del Monte peaches. I was shocked--at a farmers market in August? When the most succulent peaches I've ever had were available within yards?

Obviously there are some limits to localness-I don't expect local flour from the bakers, for instance, nor was I shocked that the strawberries for my crepe appeared to come from a Driscoll's container given that they aren't in season here this time of year, but the canned peaches were a real disappointment. Is it standard for a "farmers market" to insist on only local items?

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  1. Some requirements for admittance to the market have to do with a certain percentage of the end product being hand-made, vs. locally grown.

    1. This shocked me too when I found out that one of the stands at Dupont does not actually produce all of their own stuff.

      I've switched to doing most of my shopping at U Street because they are a producer only market. Dupont, as far as I can tell, is not.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jeserf

        From the Fresh Farm website: re-Dupont
        All FRESHFARM Markets are producer-only markets. Farmers may only sell what they grow or produce themselves. This ensures that the money you spend goes directly to farmers, helping their operations remain economically viable so they can continue to farm their land.

        1. re: monavano

          I've been told by one of the stands that they do not grow everything. Same stand at more than one market, with the same produce.

          Maybe he changed his stand in the year since I've sort of stopped going there, but he told me "I don't have them this week because the place I buy them from was out". ssssooooo woops.

          1. re: Jeserf

            Details? Who didn't have what? In a small percentage of cases, this is probably true, but it's a gross exaggeration to say that Dupont is not producer-only. Now Old Town..that's another story (but it's getting better).

            1. re: monavano

              I do not care to say which stand in a public forum, since many many people here patronize that market for the producer only value, and I don't want to hurt someone's business. This stand is, however, in the main lot and during that season, I asked about this item at more than one market they are at.

              I know when I went to U St and spoke to one of the vendors about bread, he said he could not bring the bread he makes not just because there is already a bread stand (even if I don't think it's the BEST bread, it's still good) but because he uses ingredients that are not from the farm he works for, and U St doesn't allow that.

              I am not exaggerating, as I don't particularly care one way or another, but if even a small percentage of items are not direct from the producer, then it's not really producer only, is it?

              I still shop there, just personally less often than ever due to the cost, how crowded it is (too many strollers rolling over my toes!), and my proximity to the U St market. I have been known to visit both in one weekend. Then I'm broke, but full.

              1. re: Jeserf

                Thanks for your reply. I understand not wanting to name names, but TPTB at the market ought to know-this is not in the letter, or spirit of the producer-only market. Dissappointing.
                eta: it really helps to forge a relationship with the vendors-better assurance about the provinence of goods.

      2. "Caveat Emptor" is the only reliable standard. It seems to have worked for you this time.

        1. Timely comment. See article in this week's Baltimore citypaper:

          1. Perhaps obvious to state, but it varies based on which market and where it is. For example, in Fairfax County the farmer's markets are all producer-only and come from within 125 miles of the county. I'm not sure which, if any, others have similar requirements.