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Paul Hong displays one of his Le Belle Rouge roosters at his Newberry Springs farm.

Southland Farmers' Market Association

Our History

For decades, farmers throughout California have been cultivating their land to grow healthy, fresh products for their families and friends. As the population grew, cities emerged and large companies joined forces, farmers were forced to either stay in the industry with tough struggles or close their family business and relocate.


In the last 30 years, every effort has been made to support direct marketing of local growers and their products. In 1976, on Governor Jerry Brown’s recommendation, the Direct Marketing Code was developed and put into state regulations by Rose Bird, California’s agriculture director.


By 1980, farmers at the Gardena farmers’ market discussed the need for coordination of growers and crops through a central association, thus came the Southland Farmers’ Market Association. The first six markets including Gardena, Pacoima, Pasadena, Villa Park, Long Beach, and Adams and Vermont were organized through the Interfaith Hunger Coalition “Hunger Organizing Team.” As more markets developed in Los Angeles County throughout the early 80’s, their member farmers agreed to join the Association.


As the burgeoning farmers’ market movement grew in California, Southland helped to direct and support farmers, new markets, and promote and support existing markets. Today, Southland Farmers’ Market Association is the largest trade association of certified farmers’ markets in California. Founded in 1983, the Association has grown to represent 22 farmers’ markets and more than 400 growers in Southern California.


Southland’s Board of Directors is primarily composed of small farmers who actively participate in the farmers’ markets. The chief role of the Association is to safeguard the integrity of the markets by ensuring that producers only sell what they have grown. Customers are thereby assured that they are buying fresh fruits and vegetables directly from local California producers.


There are more than 360 certified farmers’ markets in California and the number continues to grow each year. In 2001, the industry accounts for $250 million in sales. This is all the more remarkable for the fact that certified farmers’ markets must be operated as a community service by a non-profit organization, local public agency or California certified growers. Southland offers assistance to markets and growers with marketing, promotions, member services, legislative advocacy and self-enforcement programs.


Some of SFMA's Major Accomplishments

  1. Historically supported the development of farmers' markets located in low-income communities.
  2. Changed the Los Angeles County Health Department policy to allow product sampling at Certified Farmers' Markets. Helped change the state health code to allow sampling in all counties.
  3. Assisted in drafting legislation to allow bakers and food vendors at farmers' markets.
  4. Cosponsored, with California Department of Food and Agriculture, market manager training on crop quality and enforcement methods.
  5. Increased farmer sales through the development and support of innovative projects including the Market Basket Program, McKinley School Farmers' Market Salad Bar, and other projects.
  6. Convinced the Health Department to allow processed products to be sold at farmers' markets allowing farmers with fruit and juice to sell both products in the market.
  7. Advocated for the expansion of the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) providing coupons for low-income shoppers.
  8. Drafted and supported legislation creating fines for buying and selling other farmers' produce. Farmers caught can be fined up to $1,000 and suspended from selling in the markets.
  9. Developed alternatives to the state appeal process for farmers. The proposals included mediation and arbitration as a first step instead of civil court.
  10. Worked to get City of LA funds to support three new farmers' markets in under-served Los Angeles.
  11. Supported and drafted legislation requiring more farm and market inspections.
  12. Drafted and successfully lobbied for legislation so farmers are only required to pay for scale registration in one county, saving farmers money.
  13. Convinced the Health Department to license each farmers' market instead of each individual farmer, saving farmers money.

At a Southland Farmers' Market, you are assured that you are purchasing quality produce from certified local growers and producers. Southland Farmers' Market Association serves member markets, local California farmers and consumers by promoting and protecting the integrity of certified farmers' markets in Southern California.


Photos by David Karp


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