The Farmers" Market held weekly each Saturday morning from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., is a tradition that has been going on at Market Square for 240 years. In fact, Alexandria's Farmers' Market is the oldest market in the country which has been meeting continuously at the same site. In the 1970's the Market had dwindled to a handful of farmers who sold produce to a faithful following of regular customers. The growth in numbers of vendors that occurred in the late 1980's culminated in the adoption of formal policies and regulations by the City Council in May 1989, with policy amendments approved by City Council in February 1992 and March 2012. Policies and regulations served to:
- Establish a Rules Committee with representation by the vendors;
- Establish a "resale" vendor class for produce as a way of stimulating the dwindling supply of produce on the Market;
- Include handicrafts as an eligible Market product;
- Assign space priority to vendors who have been continuous stall renters for the longest period of time;
- Prohibit the sale of certain foods for health reasons and involve the review of the Health Department of questionable food items; and
- Define the term "Farm and Domestic Products," as it is used in the Virginia Statute that establishes Farmers' Markets;
- Clarify the definitions of various types of vendors and products at the Market;
- Establish a procedure for selecting vendor applications who are on the waiting list;
- Establish vendor attendance standards; and
- Establish various rules regarding the payment of rent and the prohibition of "subletting" of Market spaces.
The adopted regulations have been effective in helping the Department of General Services manage the Market. The General Services Department designates a staff person as the Market Master who assigns stalls, collects rents, assists vendors and visitors, and enforces the City's regulations. In addition, a Rules Committee was established. This committee has worked to resolve conflicts between vendors, to rule on eligIbility of products by applicant vendors, and to initiate ideas for improvements to the Market.
The continuing demand for spaces is so great there are over 150 vendor applicants waiting for vacancies to open up. The number of Market visitors has also grown significantly. A conservative estimate is that more than 3000 visitors pass through the Market on a typical Saturday morning. The crowds have increased to a point that we have had to limit the number of vendors to 116 (we had previously estimated that the vendor capacity was 150) so that there is adequate circulation space for the visitors.
Due to the Market's continuing popularity and the lengthy waiting list, rules were established that set limits on the quantity of certain categories of vendors in order to maintain a diversity of products, to outline how new vendors are added to the market and to ensure space availability for produce vendors at the Market. These limits are listed below:
|Produce and Food
||45% of, or 52, vendors
An example of how limits operate in selecting vendors from the waiting list, if the next vendor on the list were a jeweler, but there were already seven jewelers on the Market, then that vendor would stay at the top of the list until a jewelry vacancy developed.
There are special considerations given to produce vendors. First, because produce vendors are in short supply, the rules provide incentive for them to participate at our Market. Further, since home grown produce is a perishable and seasonal product, we want to give produce vendors opportunities to enter and leave the Market without having to wait long periods. Produce vendors are accommodated in two ways. First, they are given priority over other vendors on the waiting list for permanent spaces. If there is a produce vendor anywhere on the waiting list, that vendor will take the next available space. Further, there are spaces that are designated as temporary spaces for produce only. In these spaces a small gardener who has a surplus of vegetables can have an opportunity to market his or her crop easily, without delay.
FARMERS MARKET REGULATIONS
- Farmers Market. The Farmers Market is the City operated market that is located on the Market Square plaza at 301 King Street. The boundaries are defined by the Market Master depending upon the number of vendors present. In no case, however, will the Market occupy sidewalk or street right-of-way. During winter months the Market Master may move the Farmers Market into the covered parking garage below the Market Square. The Market hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.each Saturday. Hours and days are subject to change with notice by the Market Master.
- Farm or Domestic Products. Included are products that are grown or produced on farms or in homes or gardens. These products are further defined as follows:
- Produce -Vegetables, fruit, grains, eggs, plants, plant cuttings, flowers, seeds, nuts, and herbs.
- Prepared Foods -Foods that are processed in some way by the vendor and are approved by the Health Department. These items include, but are not limited to, cured meats, baked goods, preserves, pickles, juices, home canned products, and cheeses.
- Handicrafts -Handcrafted products that are made in the home. The product may be made from manufactured materials provided that most of the product's value results from the crafting of the vendor or the vendor's family.
- Vendors. Persons who have paid their stall rent, agreed to comply with the Farmers Market regulations, and agreed to sell only "Farm or Domestic Products," defined above.
- Producer Vendors. Vendors who sell products which are grown or produced by themselves or members of their households at their own farms, homes, or gardens.
- Resale Vendors. Vendors who sell produce which has been grown by persons other than themselves or members of their households.
- Rules Committee. The Rules Committee of the Farmers Market will consist of two vendor representatives who will be selected biennially in July by a vote of the vendors, the Market Master, the Director of the General Services Department, a representative of the Finance Director, and a representative of the Health Department. The Committee will meet to review rule changes, vendor appeals, product eligibility issues, disciplinary actions/suspensions, and issues that the City Manager wishes to resolve.
- ELIGIBLE PRODUCTS
Only "Farm or Domestic Products" as defined above may be sold at the Farmers Market. Resale vendors must limit their items to farm and garden produce.
- Fresh meats, fishery products, shellfish, shell stock and prepared foods (except those approved by the Health Department) are not eligible products for the Farmers Market for reasons of public health. All questions regarding eligibility for reasons of health shall be resolved by the Alexandria Health Department.
- No foods shall be sold which could be classified as "potentially hazardous food" as defined by Section 11-2-5 (25) of the City Code. Vendors who wish to sell cheese, canned goods (fruits, vegetables, juices, etc.), or baked goods shall :first obtain the approval of the Alexandria Health Department, and have evidence of that product approval in their possession, whenever they are selling these products.
- No products sold can be used or second hand.
- To qualify as a handcrafted product, an item must have acquired a substantial part of its value from the crafting of the vendor or the vendor's family.
- MARKET MASTER
- The Market Master is the person appointed by the Director of General Services to administer the Market and enforce the rules. Examples of the Market Master's authority are as follows:
- Revoke a vendor's permit.
- Assign display and selling areas to vendors.
- Collect rent from vendors.
- Direct the removal of ineligible products.
- Direct vendors to comply with health and sanitation rules.
- Receive vendor appeals of rules and regulations.
- The Market Master shall make space assignments in a manner that best assures the good safety, management, and operation of the Market. With these factors considered, priority of assignments shall be based upon the length of time vendors have been continuous licensees of the Market, with the highest priority going to the vendor with the longest record of continuous history as a rent paying vendor. Priority also will be given to producer vendors over resale vendors.
- DISPLAY OF PRODUCTS
- Prices of all products must be clearly marked.
- All packaged or canned food must include the name of the preparer, the contents, and the address of the place of manufacture.
- No selling area will be permitted to use any fuel burning or electric devices to heat products, except for coffee/hot water urns when approved by the Market Master.
- All eligible products except fresh produce, handicrafts, flowers, plants, and canned goods shall be wrapped.
- No vendor shall be permitted to be licensed for more than one stall space at a time.
- RESPONSIBILITIES OF VENDORS
- Comply with these regulations as well as all other regulations, codes, and statutes that govern the growing, preparation, and sale of products defined in this regulation.
- Cooperate with the Market Master regarding the assignment of space, use of City property, use of parking spaces, etc.
- Maintain a clean vending area, dispose of all refuse and trash at the direction of the Market Master, and take care not to deface or damage City property.
- Pay the rent timely and in advance to the Market Master.
- Vendors who wish to register as "Producer Vendors" and be exempt from the City business tax must complete the attached certification, have it notarized, and submit it to the Market Master prior to selling as a Producer Vendor.
- Vendors are responsible for the safety of the products being sold, and shall hold the City of Alexandria harmless from any liability whatsoever that results from their activities on Market Square.
- Payment of Taxes. All vendors are responsible to the State of Virginia for collecting and reporting Virginia Sales Tax. In addition, resale vendors are responsible for obtaining business licenses from the City of Alexandria and submitting reports of revenue as required of a City of Alexandria business.
- SUGGESTIONS/APPEALS OF VENDORS
Vendors may appeal the interpretations of these regulations or the decisions of the Market Master by submitting a written appeal to the Market Master. The appeal will be considered within three days by the Director of General Services and a written response returned to the appealing vendor.
- In the event that the appealing vendor wish¥s to appeal the decision of the Director of General Services, he/she may ask for a meeting with the Rules Committee of the Farmers Market. The Rules Committee will hear the appeal and render a decision within one week. Decisions and recommendations of the Rules Committee must obtain the final review of the City Manager.
- DISCIPLINARY ACTION
- In an emergency and in the interest of maintaining health and order, the Market Master may have a vendor or customer removed from the Market. In exercising this authority, the Market Master is to invite the assistance of the Police Department and will notify the Director of General Services or his/her representative as soon as possible.
- In the event that a vendor violates the rules of the Market and disregards the verbal warnings of the Market Master, the vendor may be suspended for a length of time that is dependent upon the severity of the offense. All suspensions will be reviewed by the Rules Committee which will consider the suspension prior to its being implemented, if possible.
- ALLOCATION OF VENDOR SPACES
- Vendor spaces shall be allocated based upon three determining factors:
- Position on the waiting list.
- Priority of the vendor category.
- Maximum numbers of vendors allowed by vendor category.
- The Waiting List -To get onto the waiting list, a prospective vendor must submit a Vendor's License application and a notarized Producer Vendor Certificate (except for resale producer vendors) to the Market Master. The position on the waiting list is determined by the date that the Market Master receives these documents.
- Priority of Vendor Category -Because of the scarcity of home grown produce vendors and the desire to preserve their traditional place in the Market, these vendors will be selected first from the waiting list regardless of the position of other vendors in other categories.
- Maximum Allowances of Certain Vendor Categories -Certain vendor categories will be subject to maximum allowances in their number or percent. When the names of these vendors come to the top of the waiting list, they will be allocated a space at the Market only if the allowance for that vendor type has not already been reached. The following maximum allowances are established:
- The total number of vendors in the handicraft category shall not exceed 45% of the total number of Market vendors, or 52 vendors, whichever is greater.
- The total number of vendors selling jewelry shall not exceed 5% of the total number of Market vendors, or 7 vendors, whichever is greater.
- The total number of vendors selling framed art shall not exceed 5 vendors.
- The total number of vendors selling wearable art (painted tee shirts, hats, etc.) shall not exceed 5 vendors.
- In addition to the above allocations, there shall be fifteen temporary (one calendar month at a time) spaces that are to be reserved solely for produce vendors who have raised or grown the produce.
- The rental rate is established by the City Council and is currently $30.00 per month, March through December, or $300.00 per year.
- Monthly rent is due no later than the first day of the month for each month of the Market season (March 1 through December 31).
- Monthly rent is due for each month of the Market season (March 1 through December 31)
- Vendors in good standing may continue to vend during the off-season, weather permitting.
- Vendors may not sublet or "loan" their assigned space to another person, regardless of whether that person is already a Market Vendor.
- Vendors that are 30 days, or more, in arrears will have their licenses terminated.
- VENDOR ATTENDANCE
- It is expected that vendors attend most of the Saturday Market dates. If a vendor is absent for four consecutive Saturdays between April 1 and December 31, the Market Master will send a letter by certified mail to advise the vendor to resume attendance within two weeks. If the vendor does not comply within that time, or does not respond with valid reasons such as illness or other extenuating circumstances, then that vendor's license will be terminated.
- If a vendor receives two warnings during the nine month period of April 1 through December 31, the vendor's license will not be renewed for the following season.
- If vendors are in arrears on their rent, they will be terminated after four Saturdays of non-attendance.