Farmer’s markets are in full swing across the state and there are more today than ever. But there’s more than just buying and selling going on at the markets.

At the farmer’s market, you shake the hands that have sown, raised, cared for, and harvested your food.  There, you greet old friends, and make new ones. They are the best places to connect with the core of the sustainable agriculture community.

Starting a New Farmers Market

Anyone can start a farmers market (city governments, farmers, community groups, business associations, or individuals) however, establishing a successful market involves meeting certain requirements and conditions.

At a Georgia Organics conference in 2014, Leanne Culbreath, of Wiregrass Farmers Market, and Deborah Chester, of the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers Market, presented on Starting and Sustaining a Community Farmers Market. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 , and Part 5.

Below you’ll find presentations and documents used by established and viable farmers markets.

  • The UC Small Farm Program has a comprehensive collection of resources for starting a new farmers market from scratch.
  • Brennan Washington, from Phoenix Gardens, who helped start farmers markets in Auburn, Lawrenceville, and Norcross, shared this presentation with tips on recruiting vendors, growing consumer demand, and setting clear and attainable goals.
  • The East Atlanta Village Farmers Market is sharing its financial data from 2007-2009, including expenses, income, and marketing. EAV founders have also provided this initial proposal of the farmers market that was used to solicit business associations and private sponsors into giving around $3,500 for start-up and operational costs.
  • The Peachtree Road Farmers Market is sharing a copy of their 2009 Market Agreement for the market and the vendor and its market principals (which serve as great guidelines showcasing the market’s personal vision and mission). Here is a link to their website where you can see the most up-to-date qualification for becoming a vendor and apply to sell at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market.
  • The East Lake Farmers Market is allowing us to publish its bylaws from 2010  – very important stuff for a fledgling market.
  • The Campbell Risk Management has an insurance program designed for farmers marketing products off the farm. The Farmers Market Vendor Liability Insurance policy covers all products sold at farmers markets, and they can also write a policy to cover products sold to any outlet for only a small additional fee.

Agriculture and Food Regulations

The Department of Agriculture is the inspecting agent for foods that are packaged. Alternatively, prepared foods that are served fresh are regulated by the Georgia Department of Community Health, and falls to the county health departments. Click here for more information on regulations for value-added and prepared foods. The Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at UGA is great resource for questions in this area.

Alternatively, our own webpages on Crop Production and Livestock Production have great information about other rules and regulations related to agriculture in Georgia.

Food Stamps and the EBT Program at Farmers Markets

Access to local food at markets has also expanded. Wholesome Wave Georgia enables Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries to double dollars the they spend at participating farmer’s markets across the state.

Are you interested in accepting SNAP at your farmers’ market? Here is some basic information on how to get started and how the process works. Learn more about SNAP/EBT benefits on the USDA-Food and Nutrition Service website.