Behind the Scenes: Farmers Market Product Jury
Creating a successful farmers market with high quality, local produce and artisan food requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Here is a sneak peek of how this process works at Portland Farmers Market:
All businesses interested in being a vendor have to apply each year. Returning vendors are given first priority, and any remaining spots are available to new businesses. When a new business applies to be a vendor, our hard-working staff reviews the applications and determines if they meet our needs and requirements.
Requirements vary (read our vendor handbook for full details), but because Portland Farmers Market is strictly a food and farms marketplace, we are interested in showcasing locally grown, raised, sourced and produced products. Non-farm businesses have priority if at least 25% of the ingredients used in their products are locally sourced directly from Oregon and Washington farms.
Once we have determined that the business meets our basic requirements, they move on to the next step of the process.
For farmers, this means we conduct a tour of their farm to see their operations and verify that they are growing the products they will sell.
For all other businesses, such as bakeries, distilleries, juice makers, hot food vendors, etc., this means we invite them to submit products to a jury process.
That’s right, we taste test every new product before it comes to market. Yes, it’s a tough job. But somebody has to do it.
Product jury is a favorite time of year in the PFM office because it is exciting to try new and unique products, all made locally by small businesses, many of them start-ups.
On jury day, we collect all of the submissions and display them in our office, ready for evaluation. Each applicant submits their product as it would be sold at market, in its packaging and with a suggested retail price, plus an ingredient sourcing form.
Then, the jury, which is made up of PFM staff, board members, volunteers, and existing vendors, taste each product and provide feedback. The jury is not all about taste, however. We also provide feedback on price, portion, packaging, appearance, fit, and other information we think would be helpful.
And because our goal is to support local farmers, priority is given to those regional farmers and producers who bring products to market that are grown and harvested on farmland in Oregon or Washington that they own and/or operate.
Once a business has been approved by the jury, they are officially accepted into the PFM family and scheduled to start at their approved market(s), where they then sell their products to you – happy customers who love to support local farmers and food producers.
Examples of 2018 product jury submissions:
- CBD products
- Baked goods
- Nut milk
- Hot sauce
- Pickled veggies
- Spice mixes
Check back this spring and summer for a complete list of our 2018 new vendors!
Kelly Merrick, thanks! And thanks for sharing your great posts every week!