Going "Non_Certified"

rustico_2009March 30, 2014

My farm has been certified now by the Department of Weights and Measures for 3 years now. I thought it was pretty much a not so pleasant requirement to sell at Farmers Markets.

Maybe most of you work under similar authority.

Well, Yesterday I went to a market I previously sold at and they have a non-certified section. There was only one man in it , but he had a huge spread of stuff he probably buys at discount auctions. He was the busiest produce vendor there.
( I think James and Marla have done this with Amish produce?")

Anyway, The market is pretty slow only a handful of farmers and about half as many crafts and food booths as before, but it will probably pick up a bit from here.

I talked to one of my certified buddies and he was just telling me how they got cited for having produce from a farmer they were cross certified with on the wrong end of the table! Also cited for forgetting certification at home.

So I am wondering, I want to be the real deal or sell for my friends who are the real deal, I wish it were not true, but farmers markets are my best outlet at this time, but why pay for and put up with this "certified" hassle if you don't have to?

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rustico_2009

Sorry, I would edit my post to make it more readable, but when I try to do that I get some weird code in the text box instead of the typing.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:48PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

What does certified mean for you? Our weights and measures certify our scales and that is it. You can't sell by weight if you don't have a certified scale.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 3:31PM
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rustico_2009

Maybe this is a topic to discuss only with people in this region.

The dept. comes out to our properties and those of "certified growers" who we are cross referenced with ( another set of rules with that) to verify crops are in the ground or in a nursery on your property at some stage of growth. Those are put on your list of certified items...nothing else can be sold.

Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with growing methods.

The scale rules are the same as yours.

This post was edited by rustico_2009 on Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 17:59

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 3:52PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

What state are you in?

I only wish my state had that certification process. I'm sick of people selling produce at the market that they didn't grow themselves. Sometimes they can buy it wholesale and still re-sell it cheaper than I can grow it.

Some of the market managers care and others don't. Likewise, some customers just want the cheapest they can find and I often wonder why those people even come to the market instead of going to a supermarket.

If I were you, i'd stay certified and make sure your customers know what it means.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:40PM
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myfamilysfarm

Yes, we did buy/sell especially when we weren't able to grow ourselves. We gave the growing farmer his credit and only claimed our own grown as our own. We were able to buy from several certified organic growers, and marked them as such. We did not intermingle the certified with non-certified or our own. If we didn't know that the farmer was certified or growing organic, we didn't claim any thing except 'local'.

we kept everything grown local (within 100 miles of market). Only if we needed to go out of the 100 miles, we would list WHERE it was grown.

If someone wanted to know where the farmer was, we could supply his address (and with the Amish, made sure that it was ok with them and NO sunday visits). Our growers were aware and ok with it.

When I started out, I really wanted to be organic and certified, after 3 years of the organic practices and realizing that I wasn't able to get any more from organic versus non-organic, I decided NOT to certify. I did continue to grow as safely as possible, and stated such. I explained that my grandkids would walk out to the garden and pick/eat without washing, so I wanted the produce to be as 'clean' as I could get.

This was in 2000 thru 2013. Just as we were leaving our major market, did the organic awareness hit the market. until then, people just wanted fresh, tasty and local.

I was one of the largest selling vendors in that market. being that didn't make lots of friends for me with the other vendors. I just wanted to supply good, fresh, local produce with reasonable prices. I stayed close to other vendor's prices. If no vendor had similar, I had to make my own prices.

I hope this answered your question, in my situation.

Our state has an additional certification for scales versus organic. Some do not.

Marla

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 7:07AM
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rustico_2009

I am pretty much "live and let live" Marla, so, just so you know I am not picking on you guys...just made that comment for reference. I hope it wasn't the wrong thing to do.

Mark,

I dislike the government micro managing such basic commerce and having so many other restrictions against it. Even if it was stacking things in my favor as a certified grower I don't like that kind of meddling. That's part of it. My perception is that it ends up being the governments role to demoralize small scale entrepreneurs of almost any kind. Compared to the benefits, whatever they may be , the costs are enormous to our freedoms.

I don't think I would have a problem convincing people that I was different than someone who brings random commercial produce from an auction. I don't need help doing that. I need my arms not to be tied behind my back.

Anyway , the fact of the matter is that there are very few not certified markets...and this one I mentioned that has a non-certifed section , will probably be see it shut down.

That said don't assume the certified growers all follow the rules. Once something is on a growers list what is stopping them from getting it somewhere else and taking it to the market? I have had the most prestigious growers at one of our markets ask to buy what I did could not sell with no cross certification. We have people coming from up to hundreds of miles away in a state of 40 million people , employees not farmers. Who could keep tabs on what goes on behind the scenes ?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:12AM
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rustico_2009

I am pretty much "live and let live" Marla, so, just so you know I am not picking on you guys...just made that comment for reference. I hope it wasn't the wrong thing to do.

Mark,

I dislike the government micro managing such basic commerce and having so many other restrictions against it. Even if it was stacking things in my favor as a certified grower I don't like that kind of meddling. That's part of it. My perception is that it ends up being the governments role to demoralize small scale entrepreneurs of almost any kind. Compared to the benefits, whatever they may be , the costs are enormous to our freedoms.

I don't think I would have a problem convincing people that I was different than someone who brings random commercial produce from an auction. I don't need help doing that. I need my arms not to be tied behind my back.

Anyway , the fact of the matter is that there are very few not certified markets...and this one I mentioned that has a non-certifed section , will probably be see it shut down.

That said don't assume the certified growers all follow the rules. Once something is on a growers list what is stopping them from getting it somewhere else and taking it to the market? I have had one of the most prestigious growers at one of our markets ask to buy what I did could not sell with no cross certification. I bet this deception goes on all the time. We have people coming from up to hundreds of miles away in a state of 40 million people , employees not farmers. Who could keep tabs on what goes on behind the scenes ?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 11:14AM
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boston3381(7)

rustico, just a question what to you pay for " certified Department of Weights and Measures "

also QUOTE: "I talked to one of my certified buddies and he was just telling me how they got cited for having produce from a farmer they were cross certified with on the wrong end of the table! Also cited for forgetting certification at home. "
what was the fine ? is this a state run program or private?

are you selling at a private or state market and where are you ?

sorry not trying to be nosey just seems a little extreme, we been selling at farmers markets for 25 years now ..

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:28PM
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rustico_2009

This is California , yeah wouldn't you know. It isn't expensive, around $300 for visit and scale registration for a little produce. You have to play this game of planting out of season things to get them on your list for the year or have them come back. They are actually helpful about the list, which is nice. Of course, if you get fined for something, that's more.

The markets are almost all controlled in this manner....truth be told I, practically speaking, don't have a choice but to get certified to sell at markets.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 1:20PM
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boston3381(7)

your paying $300 to the state or is it a private run inspection co. ? is this a law in CaL... for farmers markets???

just seems like a lot of B.S. just to sell your produce. ho do you deal with crop rotation? like in the spring you grow lettuce till mid June then regrow on the same spot acorn squash for your late season crop. do you have to have them come out and check that your growing acorn squash after you grew lettuce there??

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 6:26PM
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rustico_2009

The authorities let you play some little games to get your stuff on the list. It goes to the extreme of having them watch you put a few seeds of various stuff in a little prepared bed. You can show them stubble from old growth and nursery plants in cold frames and greenhouses.

You have to write down the months of anticipated harvest for each item, even if you only had one plant in the ground for your inspection or some desiccated Okra plants in a heap. They do not scrutinize the possible reality of your harvest at all as far as I can tell...I generally put in the largest possible window of months for harvest(lettuce year round is feasible) and at least as much as I could possibly produce if I wanted to.

Like I said, I just object on grounds of freedom and that it does nothing to keep dishonest people honest and puts good intentioned peoples heads at least near a chopping block all the time. It's insulting more like harassment.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:58PM
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rustico_2009

I don't know if it is true but I read once that the "Arab Spring" was kicked off by a produce vendor who was being driven off the streets with his produce setting himself on fire.

This is more of a hobby for me and we in this country even the poor are wealthy enough not to go those extremes but the actual regulation against small independent enterprise isn't that different than in some of the worst places in the world to live, or in say, communism.

Maybe it's more of a California thing. Progressive and all.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 1:06PM
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tulsacityfarmer(6)

Myself, I'm giving up my certification! my daughter and i have only gotten 3 new customers form being certified organic. We have had pretty much the same customers and new ones from them over the years. Our customers buy from market and from our farm stand. People like our Facebook page and there get to see everything we do to the brands of products used.The book keeping is not worth our time needed for the Oklahoma certified organic process or the added cost! We have even noticed local restaurants that we go to that advertise they use organic when available walk right by us and buy from a vender who was almost thrown out of our market for buying from produce co. and resealing as they grew it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 2:34PM
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boston3381(7)

tulsacityfarmer , this post isn't about being certified organic. Its about some other certification that I never heard of ?? so I keep watching this post..

seems to be about paying some one to check what you grow and getting certified that you grew it...seems odd to me. still trying to find out if this is state run or private ???

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:27PM
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rustico_2009

Sorry boston3381, I thought I answered that. I believe there is a template for markets from the State, California, that County governments direct/enforce. The guidelines followed by the market manager fall under this authority but the market is run by a for profit individual usually. but sometimes a non-profit , like the International rescue center for instance. If there are outdoor markets in my state that are outside of this format , I don't know of them.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:23PM
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boston3381(7)

thank you, if I were you I would I just go non-certified if you can at the market your at..
if not, return to the market you previously sold at where they allowed non-certified.

for me the trick to markets is to build a following of customers that come back every week. I always interact with my customers, letting them know what I am growing, what's coming next week, how the crops are doing, are they looking for something other than what I have, I guess just the gift of gab.

for some of my markets its a 80/20.. 80% grown by me 20% by a LOCAL GROWER.. if I sell something that I don't grow I tell the customer that I didn't grow this item, then I take the time to tell them where it came from and why that farmer isn't here to sell there product "to small of a farm, there at another market, no more vendor spots, and so on"..

so to the point, a certified farmer has a piece of paper for people that don't trust the farmer....

a farmer with customers that return every week doesn't need a piece of paper for trust.

IMO..

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:11AM
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