Item Eligibility Discussions

A draft edition . . . for comment and editing.

The people who have helped create this document are: original author: Tom Roberts; additions contributed by Claire Ackroyd, Caitlin Hunter, Mark Guzzi, Hanne Tierney, Paula Roberts.

Questions that arose concerning each type of item are here

A fairly complete list of items that are or can be sold at our market can be found here.

What is this? An explanation:

At the January 2006 Annual Meeting of the Orono Farmers’ Market the subject arose of exactly what kinds of items are eligible for sale at the market. Some members felt that a definitive list of criteria for eligibility would be helpful. This list is a draft, a beginning of what such a definitive list might look like. The purpose of this document is to have such a list become adopted as an tool for, and record of, market decision-making. It is intended to guide and clarify our thinking and help lend consistency to our decisions.

This document does not address Federal or State of Maine licensing requirements. For that info, visit this page.

This list can also be a tool to aid farm inspectors when questions of food sources or production methods arise, as well as being an explanation of what is expected of new market applicants.

It has been pointed out that the Item Eligibility Criteria can make a good promotional tool for explaining to shoppers in an in-depth manner what kinds of foods they will find at market.

It was suggested at the Steering Committee meeting of 10-Feb-07 that a three-tiered system of “Recommended, Permitted, and Prohibited” be applied to some of the production techniques and ingredient sourcing. It was also suggested that items produced with permitted, but not recommended methods be labeled by the seller in an appropriate fashion.

It was also suggested at that meeting that all current members with their current product line, be “grandfathered”, but that any new labeling requirements apply.

This list attempts to record what have been, in the observations of the authors, the market’s practices up to now in deciding these matters. Please help us with this process by making corrections, deletions or any modifications to what is written here. Email your ideas. When a topic does not appear to have been resolved, the word {Question?} or {Suggestion:} appears at that topic.

The market’s “No-Buy Rule” (Rule #5) says that members at the market should have produced what they are offering for sale. This has been interpreted to include the member’s immediate family or the member’s employees, but not distant relatives, friends, neighbors or other producers. Since this applies universally to all items, it is not repeated it at every item.

These criteria are in addition to any applicable local, state or federal regulations regarding the sale of these items. These are internal market “No Buy Rule” clarifications.

Below are comments and questions made by various members about the philosophy we should be using to develop this list. Below that are questions relating to each type of item.

{Caitlin:} I think for this document, we should restate the market’s rules regarding processed foods and buy-ins. Over all should be the statement that whenever possible, ingredients in processed items should be local– “one degree of separation”. And intermediate items should fit traditional farm crafts, such as soap, yarn, skins, baskets.



The Purpose of the Orono Farmers’ Market is “To improve the production and marketing of local farm and garden products in the Orono and surrounding areas, and to stimulate public interest in the consumption of local farm and garden products thereby supporting, preserving, and improving the quality of rural life in this area.” — From the By-Laws, Article II.

It is the responsibility of all members to keep these goals in mind when bringing products to market. Our customers expect that food brought to market is home-grown and home-made, and this confidence must be respected as our greatest asset.

To this end, products brought to market must always come as close to being home-grown and homemade as possible. Ingredients in processed foods should be locally grown where possible. In making value-added products, as much of the process as possible should be performed by the vendor.

We encourage our customers to become informed. Members are encouraged to provide informative labels for their products.

Claire also suggested this decision sieve for HOW to think about what should be allowed.

  1. Can I grow the product (hereinafter referred to as ‘it’) myself? If no (eg. Wheat flour);
  2. Can I get it from a market member? (this would be blueberries) If no;
  3. Can I get it from a Maine farmer (this becomes a possible ‘yes’ for flour. It is a definite ‘yes’ for seedling compost and fertilizer). If no;
  4. Can I buy it direct from a small producer? (This could apply for cherries and apricots and raisins etc).

You have to use the thing that gets the first ‘yes’.

For processed products using ingredients that are never available from small producers, like pineapple, the question becomes:

  1. Can I make the product from scratch from fresh ingredients? If no;

The answer is probably you shouldn’t be bringing the product to market!

These are some special comments and questions related to particular item types:


{Caitlin:} How about wild-gathered foods, such as fiddleheads, mushrooms, wild berries, some herbs? Should it be from the member’s land? As in honey or maple syrup, may not always be possible, but again, there is a time and skill factor involved. I’m sure it takes time and skill to gather wild items.

{Mark G.} Should crops grown from GMO (genetically modified) seeds be allowed?


{Claire:} TREE FRUIT – trees do not have to be owned by the vendor, but all production operations must be performed by the vendor or his/her employee.

{Question:} Why just tree fruit?


{Claire:} FRESH MILK AND MEAT – must be from animals owned and managed by the vendor.

{Hanne} How long must a member own and manage an animal before slaughter?

{Hanne} We should distinguish between destructive (meat, pelts) and non-destructive (milk, eggs, yarn, etc.) animal products.

{Questions} What about rBGH in dairy products?


{Claire:} Processed meat and dairy products should be from Maine-grown animals.

{Caitlin:} For processed foods, in the equation of [raw ingredients] plus [time and skill] = [finished product], time and skill should be equal or greater than the raw ingredients…. if you follow me. Dried herbs doesn’t take much time or skill, but baking a loaf of bread does.