What items are eligible to be sold at market?

Several questions commonly arise about the ingredients used to produce a product sold at market: Can the ingredients be purchased? Do they need to be made by the producers themselves? Must they be Maine produced? Can they come from out-of-state or commercial sources? The Orono Farmers’ Market has a draft version of what items are eligible to be sold at market.

To best address these questions, it is useful to think about them as they concern all types of market members, because we can learn how to think about how they apply to each category of member by way of analogy.

All farmers’ markets allow their farmer and gardener members to purchase seeds, seed potatoes, seedlings used to produce crops, plugs, rootstock and other production inputs from any source whatever. It is commonly recognized that the amount of time, effort and artistry put in by the farmer to transform these inputs into harvested crops is considerable, and it is this transformation that differentiates the purchased seed from the harvested crop.

If we apply analogous reasoning to processed foods (cider, dried herbs, jams, pickles, etc.) we can, by considering each case individually, make a determination as to whether the amount of time, effort and artistry used to transform a purchased input into the marketable product is sufficient to allow the product to be regarded as member-produced. Clearly repackaging a 50lb. bag of purchased potatoes into 5 lb. bags would not be considered enough of a transformation to make the 5 lb. bags the members own production.

Again, if we apply the same line of thinking to the baker, then few would expect the baker to produce their own grains, and while purchasing Maine grown flours would certainly result in a marketing edge, few would think this necessary for the bread to be considered as the baker’s own Maine produced product.

About Tom Roberts

When I started attending the Brewer Farmers’ Market back in August of 1983, my sole concern was being able to sell the produce my farm was growing at a good price. After attending market for a year or two, I began to realize that how the market was organized had a great impact on my sales. And how the market was organized also influenced how it made decisions about dues, new members, what could be sold at market, and how it promoted itself—and this, too, had an impact on my sales. So I got involved in the market’s steering committee and began to understand how various market members thought the market should operate. Some wanted a market czar, some wanted everyone to be allowed to do their own thing. But everyone seemed to agree that if the market as a whole did well, then so did they.