An excellent piece on cities that are unsure of how to handle the explosion in the number of farmers markets, and by extension, small-scaled agriculture within city limits. There may be some correlation between cities that still operate markets themselves and how restrictive their rules are for other markets, but I’d hazard a guess that it has more to do with how they handle small business and open space as a whole. And how they view their relationship to the entire region.
In any case, it shows the need for markets and for all food organizers to realize early on that policy work is an essential part of their work. And for more legal and municipal templates for markets to be written and shared across the US. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the need to gather information on a market’s economic, social, intellectual and natural benefits to be able to make the case to cities about the positive impact of markets.
“Dallas is one city that has historically owned its own farmers’ market,” Sarah Perry, founder of White Rock Local Market, writes in an email. “This is important because it makes Dallas’ interests in ‘farmers’ markets’ a bit different than other cities.”
At first, residents at private markets believed that as long as they kept sites clean and orderly, they had no reason to think they were doing anything wrong. That held true for a while, but once officials realized that some of these markets were a going concern, they started hassling market organizers about permits. Dallas had no provision for a farmers’ market permit, however, and general “special events” permits were expensive and required police presence.
Another issue in Durham is minimum parking requirements. For smaller farmers, there’s only a requirement if the farmer wishes to set up any sort of permanent structure from which to sell their goods. In that case, they need to have at least one parking space. Which, more often than not, is going to require a curb cut, an expense most small farmers can’t afford.