Defining “Local” (Or Not)

Some farmers’ markets limit those who can sell within the farmers’ market to those who are farming in a certain region, such as the Salinas Valley, or farming within a certain radius of the market, for example within 100 miles of the farmers’ market. This decision is solely up to those who are operating the farmers’ market. There is no law or regulation that mandates such limits as long as all of the fresh produce is grown in California.

Setting such a restriction can be an effective way to establish and promote your values if, for example, part of your mission is strengthening the local food system or supporting local farmers. The drawback of such a restriction is that it also restricts the products that are available to be sold in the farmers’ market. California’s diverse regional climates make it possible to grow almost any type of produce within the state. But not all types of produce grow in all areas. A farmers’ market in the Bay Area with very restrictive rules may find themselves unable to bring in farmers to sell citrus which is primarily grown in Southern California, apples which are abundant in the foothills of the Sierras, or vegetables that rely upon hot weather to reach their peak, such as peppers, which are predominantly grown in California’s Central Valley.

A Guide to Opening Small Farmers' Markets in San Jose, California