The Role of your Local County

Two county agencies have jurisdiction over farmers’ markets and applications must be filed with each before your farmers’ market can operate. You will complete an “Application for Certified Farmers’ Market Certificate” and submit it to your county’s department of agriculture.

A number of California counties, including Santa Clara County, have partnered with CDFA to accept online applications for a Certified Farmers’ Market Certificate. If your county is one of those accepting the online application, you can access it at through the CDFA website. Most counties will require a hand-written signature on the application, even if it is submitted electronically. This can be accomplished through a visit to the office of the county Agriculture Commissioner once all of the paperwork is in order.

On the application you will be asked for information about your organization, for the name of the individual who will serve as the farmers’ market manager, and for information about the farmers’ market including a location, the months, days, and times that it will operate as well as an estimate of the average number of farmers’ stalls that you will have within the farmers’ market each quarter.

State law only allows local governments, farmers, and nonprofit organizations to operate farmers’ markets. If you are applying as a farmer, the county may require that you submit a valid certified producers certificate along with your application. If you are applying as a nonprofit organization, the county may ask for supporting paperwork such as articles of incorporation or registration with the California Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts.

If you are launching your farmers’ market in Santa Clara County you can contact the Agriculture Department at:

Santa Clara County Division of Agriculture
1553 Berger Drive
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 918 – 4600

You will also need to file an application with your county’s department of environmental health. Even if your market will have only farmers selling their products and will not have nonagricultural producers or vendors, you must still complete this step. The California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH) can help to connect you with the proper department in your county.

If you are launching your farmers’ market in Santa Clara County you can contact the Environmental Health Department at:

Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health
1555 Berger Dr #300
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 918-3400

Other agencies may ask for a copy of your Certified Farmers’ Market Certificate as a part of their application processes so it is important to submit this application as soon as you can in your market planning process so it does not delay other applications needed for your market to operate successfully.

If you are launching your farmers’ market in an unincorporated part of a county there may be county rules concerning land use that you should be aware of. Contact the county government directly to inquire about those.

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