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In the UK we have been hearing more and more about Farmers Markets springing up all around the country. This has to be a step in the right direction - getting back to the good old days when produce went straight from the land to the plate without the interference of big business along the way.

Where I live, in Cheltenham, there have been at least a couple of farmers markets both of which I missed because I did not know about them until after the event. When I saw in the newspaper that there was a National organisation set up with its own website I went and had a look both to find out where the markets are held and to learn a little bit more about them. I have reproduced below some of the information from the website of the National Association of Farmer's Markets which is as good a way as any to tell you what they are about.

Guidance Criteria

National associtaion of Farmers MarketsNAFM has developed a set of criteria with which Farmers' Markets which wish to be Members should comply. 

National Association of Farmers' Markets Criteria 

Please refer to guidance notes below for details

1.  Locally produced
Only produce from the defined local area shall be eligible

2.  Own produce 
All produce sold must be grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stall' holder. 

3.  Principal producer 
The stall must be attended by the principal producer or a representative directly involved in the production process.

4.  Policy and information 
Information should be available to customers at each market about the rules of the market and the production methods of the producers. The Market should also publicise the availability of this information.

5.  Other rules 
Markets may establish other criteria in addition to the above provided they do not conflict with them.


Guidance Notes on the interpretation of the Criteria 

1. Locally produced 

A radius from the market has generally been used to define "local": 30 miles from the market would be a typical definition. The actual distance will depend on circumstances and on the consumers' own perception of "local". 

Markets may use a more complex definition which takes account of a wider range of factors for example: 

  • the primary aim of giving priority to producers living closest to the market;
  • the definition of an area by natural features, by particular characteristics or by historic relationships between the countryside and particular towns;
  • the need to include types of produce which are not locally available e.g. cereals in an area where the climatic conditions are mainly suitable for grazing;
  • for markets within large urban areas such as London, farms are of necessity some distance away and large populations are served;
  • in coastal areas, the definition may need to refer to locally caught fish and a larger radius is needed to include the same area of land;
  • the catchment area of other markets for example in order to avoid excluding more remote areas from the catchment of any market;
  • Implications for neighbouring Farmers' Markets.

"Locality" should be evident in whatever definition is adopted and an overall area much larger than a 30 mile radius is unlikely to retain local characteristics. The National Association reserves the right to approve each definition as coming within the spirit of this clause. 

Local Market conditions may also:

  • give priority to producers who are closest to the market; 
  • use different definitions of "locally produced" for primary and added-value products or for crafts.

2. Own produce 

"Own produce" means: 

  • for primary produce, including livestock, that it has been grown or finished on the producers' land.
  • for processed meat products, that the meat should be primary produce as defined above.;
  • for other processed foods; that the products have been made within the defined radius and ingredients sourced locally where possible. 

If there is a choice, crafts and processed products using materials from outside the area should be excluded in favour of food products which have an entirely local origin. The proportion of the Market represented by processed products and crafts should generally not exceed 25% except in the winter months when it should not exceed 50%. 

The intention of this clause is to ensure there is the closest possible link between consumers and local production. 

3. Principal producer

The stall should be operated by someone directly involved in production, not just in other aspects of the producer's business. One of the key principles of a Farmers' Market is for the consumer to have a direct relationship with the producer.

Producer co-operatives and community associations such as local allotment societies or Womens' Institute groups may be agreed as principal producers on a case by case basis by the local market. In all cases they must be bonefide producers. 

4. Policy and information 

Each Farmers' Market should be operated in accordance with trading standards, environmental health, alcohol licensing, market charters and other relevant legislation. 

The policy of each Farmers' Market in terms of sourcing locally produced food and encouraging sustainable methods of production should be available to customers. 

Producers must produce clear written information about production methods which shall be available to any consumer who requests it. The Market must also publicise the availability of this information. Producers should be encouraged to welcome visitors onto their farm. 

Markets should for the time being include a policy that no genetically modified organisms are knowingly sold or included in products sold at the market. 

Markets may establish other standards which they feel are appropriate in their locality, eg compliance with minimum animal welfare standards. 

5. Other criteria 

Markets may set other rules which do not conflict with the main principles set out in the criteria. 

The prime aim of the market must be to develop a vibrant environment where consumers and producers are brought together. The number of criteria applied as a matter of policy should be kept to a minimum relying instead on the provision of information and consumer demand. 

The aims of the National Association of Farmers' Markets are:

  • To promote Farmers' Markets and assist in the formation of new ones
  • To support existing Farmers' Markets and enable them to expand and remain self-sustaining.
  • To define and accredit the Farmers' Market concept and grant accreditation only to those markets which conform to the agreed criteria (link to criteria area 4).
  • To represent the interests of Farmers' Markets to local and national government.
  • To draw on the support of the range of national agencies which support Farmers' Markets and develop their involvement.

If you would like to contact the National Association of Farmers' Markets you can do so via their website at www.farmersmarkets.net

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com