Farmers markets offer a gathering space for consumers to engage directly with farm and food business vendors that grow, prepare, and sell their food and agricultural products. Vermont’s farmers markets are a fun way to engage with the community and enjoy prepared foods, music, and entertainment. They’re also a great way to facilitate relationships and personal connections that extend beyond the markets. Many of Vermont’s farmers markets occur during the week, others on weekends in all corners of the state in both urban and rural communities.
Vermont’s farmers markets are typically seasonal, with the majority taking place during the summer, though we have approximately 15 winter farmers markets. Products offered at markets are seasonally dependent; the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables are found during the summer while storage crops, maple, dairy and meat, among other products, dominate the winter markets. May usually marks the start of most farmers’ market seasons, running until mid to late October, when the growing season winds down here in Vermont.
Vermont currently has around 70 summer farmers’ markets, with each market being unique, varying in size, sales volume, amount of vendors, products available, entertainment offered, and visual appearance. The best way to see and enjoy the farmers market diversity is to get out there and visit as many as you can! There is a vast variety to choose from.
Farmers markets are a great way to connect directly with your local producers, access fresh local food, and often offer increased accessibility to healthy and affordable local food to all Vermonters.
Farmers Market Audits
The VAAFM conducts routine audits of Vermont farmers markets to ensure products sold and devices utilized are compliant with state statute and to provide technical assistance to market managers and vendors as needed. VAAFM inspectors are cross trained to conduct initial inspections of all regulated products and devices located at the market(s) and utilize an audit checklist to complete these inspections. Please review this Sample Farmers Market Inspection Report. Any areas of noncompliance detected for the first time during an initial routine inspection are communicated to the vendor(s) and the market manager(s) and may result in follow up with the vendor by a VAAFM employee with appropriate subject matter expertise. Inspectors may also take immediate action in instances where violations detected constitute a significant public health risk to market customers.
Farmers Market Regulations
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) regulates multiple food products that are commonly sold or distributed at farmers markets, including red meat and poultry products, raw milk and processed dairy products, eggs, maple products, potatoes, apples and strawberries. The VAAFM also regulates the small scales that many market vendors use when selling produce and other products directly to consumers. Please review the following document: State Regulations for Selling at Farmers Markets: A Guide for Market Managers and Vendors, as well as The Requirements for Selling Eggs in Vermont.
Local Foods Data Tracking Program
The Local Foods Data Tracking Program is a joint effort between the VAAFM (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets) and USDA- AMS (Agriculture Marketing Services) Market News Reports to collect and aggregate pricing data on a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, as well as a selection of meat and poultry products grown and sold in Vermont. VAAFM will be collecting local food pricing data from interested Vermont farmers’ markets geographically distributed across the state through the 2015 summer market season, with a possibility of extending into the winter market season. Weekly updated pricing reports will be viewable on VAAFM’s website, as well as the USDA-AMS Market News Reports. Click ‘Farmers Markets’ and then ‘Vermont Weekly Farmers Market Report’.
Retail Price Comparison
In 2015, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets received support from USDA Agriculture Marketing Services to track prices of local products sold at farmers’ markets. During the month of August 2015, we compared the average prices of 55 produce and protein products from 13 local farmers’ markets** and 5 retail establishments throughout Central Vermont. Pricing data was collected on local and non-local products, including: organic and non-organic produce, meat, poultry and eggs. To view the full report and the results we found, please click here.
EBT Access at Farmers Markets
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s (NOFA-VT) convenient farmers market directory. You can find any Vermont Farmers Market Association (VTFMA) member farmers market in a grand list at the NOFA-VT website. For a more exclusive list of markets, search geographically for specific counties, by particular day(s) of the week, and to know if a market accepts EBT and debit cards. Take advantage of many other valuable farmers’ market resources on the NOFA-VT webpage as well!