Customers who shop at a California Certified Farmers Market (CFM) expect to be buying produce directly from the farm where it was grown. In order to ensure that farmers are selling only what they grow, the Santa Monica Farmers Market management team conducts on-farm inspections on a regular basis, and visits each new farm before it is introduced to the market. Integrity builds trust, which ensures participant loyalty, both of which are key to the markets’ success.
What is a "Certified Farmers Market"?
SMFMs are Certified Farmers Markets operated by the City in accordance with regulations established in California Administrative Code, Title 3, Chapter 3, Group 4, Article 6.5, Direct Marketing. These markets are subject to all pertinent local, county, state and federal regulations and laws. Each market is divided into two sections: the Certified Agricultural section and the Non-Certified Section. Certified agricultural products and Non-certifiable Agricultural Products may be sold in the Certified Section of the market.
Certified Agricultural Products
Certified agricultural products and Non-certifiable Agricultural Products may be sold in the Certified Section of the market. Certified agricultural products are products which are grown by a certified producer (farmer) and certified under the jurisdiction of a County Agricultural Commissioner and include fresh fruits, nuts, vegetables, shell eggs, honey, cut flowers and nursery stock [CCR 1392.2(k)]. Certified producers selling processed products must also bring some of the primary unprocessed product to market when in season.
Non-Certifiable Agricultural Products
Non-certifiable Agricultural Products include all certified agricultural products that have been processed, those products other than certified agricultural products noted in CCR 1392.2(l)…from any tree, vine or plan and their flowers (including processed products), livestock (including rabbits) and livestock products, and fish and shellfish produced under controlled conditions in waters or ponds located in California [CCR 1392.2(m)]. Non-certifiable Agricultural products include: juice, jams and jellies, dried fruits and vegetables, shelled or roasted nuts, fish and seafood, poultry and poultry products, livestock and livestock products and dairy.
Certified producers found selling product not of their own production are subject to immediate dismissal from the market with reinstatement of selling privileges contingent upon a hearing and investigation.
In addition to annual farm inspections conducted by the County Agricultural Inspectors, SMFM staff visit existing and new farmer applicant properties to verify that the products being sold at SMFMs are in production at the certified location and in accordance with the provisions of the Direct Marketing Regulations.
Certified producers and producers are selected for Farm Audits based on, but not limited to the following circumstances:
- When a certified producer or producer first applies to the SMFMs.
- When information is received requiring field verification.
- As part of the normal audit cycle.
Farm Audits consist of several steps:
- A stall product audit is conducted during the market. Items presented for sale are documented and photographed.
- After the stall audit, market management visits the farm(s) and documents production and growing practices at the farm.
- A written report is composed and findings are presented to the market participant and a copy is kept in the certified producers’ file noting any actions taken for violations or follow up.
- A copy of the written report may be submitted to the County Agricultural Commissioner.
All certified producers, including certified organic farmers, are required to submit a Growing Practices Information Form that lists the methods used to control weeds, pests, soil fertility and visual appearance of their produce. Growing Practices Information forms are available for review by customers both at the markets and in the farmer profiles online.
“No Chemical” & “Pesticide Free” Labeling
Certified producers may use the terms “No Chemical” and “Pesticide Free” to advertise their products. The term “No Spray” may not be used since it is vague and misleading.
The Mystery Shopper program is utilized to verify accuracy and integrity in all sales transactions.
The Non-Certified section consists of a variety of vendors and activities including
Non-Certifiable Processed Agricultural Products
Non-certifiable processed agricultural products which are not permitted in the certified section may only be sold by certified producers in the non-certified section of the SMFMs. Non-certifiable Processed Agricultural Products include prepared or packaged foods where the primary ingredient(s) are grown by the market participant and have included pesto, olives, and nut brittle. A CPC is required to substantiate the certified producer's claim to growing the primary ingredients in Non-certifiable Processed Products.
Prepared and Packaged Foods
Prepared Food is prepared on site such as omelets, burritos and pancakes. Pre-Packaged Food includes food prepared and packaged off site in a certified kitchen such as chocolates, breads and sandwiches.
Subject to space availability, musical entertainment is allowed pursuant to local regulations. Musicians selected to perform at the market(s) may distribute promotional flyers and/or sell promotional CDs and tapes during their scheduled performances. Other promotional materials such as shirts, stickers, etc. are not allowed for sale.
SMFMs held on private property may have a retail section in the Non-certified section to allow retailers from the organized local business district to sell products normally sold in their stores. All retailers wishing to participate must hold a current City retail business license in the business district where the market has a retail section. Retail businesses participation is handled through the organized business district which has an agreement with SMFMs.