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Certified Farmers' Market

Last modified: 10/2/2014 5:51 PM


A Certified Farmers' Market is a location approved by the County Agricultural Commissioner where agricultural products are sold by producers or certified producers directly to consumers.  A Certified Farmers’ Market may only be operated by one or more certified producers, by a nonprofit organization, or by a local government agency.  A Certified Producer is a person or separate entity authorized by the County Agricultural Commissioner to sell certified agricultural products, produced by practice of the agricultural arts upon land which the certified producer controls, directly to consumers. Both the market and the producers need to be certified by the State of California through the County Agricultural Commissioner.  There are approximately 37 Certified Farmers’ Markets that operate in the County of Santa Clara, and each market is permitted and inspected by the Department of Environmental Health.


To start a certified farmers' market or to become a certified producer you need to first contact the Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner to obtain the proper


Certification.  Once certified you must operate pursuant to the laws and regulations of the Food and Agricultural Code.  Additionally, all certified farmers’ markets are required to comply with all State and Local Laws and ordinances.
Once your market is approved by the Agricultural Commissioner's office you will be required to obtain an Environmental Health Permit from the Department of Environmental Health (See below for fee schedule and submittal requirements).
Once certified, producers may sell their certified agricultural products only at certified farmers’ markets with approval from the market manager.  Individual certified producers are not required to obtain a permit from the Department of Environmental Health to sell their raw certified agricultural products.  However, processed agricultural products sold by a certified producer may require review and permitting from the Department of Environmental Health.


Non-Agricultural food BOOTHs adjacent TO Certified Farmers’ Market:


In addition to local certified farmers selling their fresh produce to consumers, the California Health and Safety Code allows for limited food preparation and sales of non-agricultural food products adjacent to, and under the jurisdiction and oversight of a Certified Farmers' Market Manager.  A Temporary Food Facility (TFF) permit is required of any person or organization that sells or gives away food at a public event approved by this Department (festivals, swap meets, fairs, circuses, public gathering, or farmers’ markets).  
All TFF operators MUST submit an application, permit fee, and any other required documents pertaining to their operation to the Department of Environmental Health at least 2 weeks before the start of operation.  Each TFF permit is issued to a specific Certified Farmers’ Market location and is non-transferable to other markets or individuals (See below for fee schedule and submittal requirements). 
Effective July 1, 2012, the Department’s permit fee structure is based upon the complexity of the foods.  These classifications are referred to as Risk Categories (RC).


Temporary Food Facility RC 1 includes:
  • Prepackaged, non-potentially hazardous foods (non-PHFs), or
  • Prepares only non-PHFs.  Examples include prepackaged foods/beverages, kettle corn, candies.
Temporary Food Facility RC 2 includes:
  • Food that is for same day service to customers (hamburgers, hot dogs, crepes etc.).
  • Food that is prepared/cooked onsite and served with limited hot or cold holding of potentially hazardous food (PHF) after preparation.
  • Food that is prepared in advance of the event (potato salad, pot pies, and tamales) at an approved facility permitted and inspected by our Department.
  • Cooling of food is not allowed on site.
  • All prepared food is to be discarded at end of day. 
Temporary Food Facility RC3 includes:
  • Food that is prepared in advance of the event (potato salad, pot pies, and tamales) at an approved facility outside of the County of Santa Clara.
  • Extensive menus with the handling and preparation of raw ingredients or complex preparation which includes cooking, cooling and reheating.
  • Food that is prepared for multi day use.

Please note that processors of general food commodities (e.g. baked goods, noodles, processed fresh vegetables, seafood, snack foods, dietary supplements, etc.) must obtain a Processed Food Registration (PFR) from Food and Drug Branch.  The PFR is needed prior to obtaining a permit from the Department of Environmental Health.

Current Environmental Health PERMITS Fees:  


  • SELLING FOOD WITHOUT THE NECESSARY PERMITS MAY RESULT IN IMMEDIATE CLOSURE OF THE FOOD FACILITY, issuance of a misdemeanor citation, possible fines and denial of future permits.
  • Effective July 1, 2012 all permit submittals will be charged A 25% penalty fee if all of the required information is not received at least two weeks before the start of operation.


Applications and fees received at least 2 weeks before event
​Late submittals less than 2 weeks before event*
Certified Farmers’ Market  with 1-20
Certified Producers
Certified Farmers’ Market  with > 20 Certified Producers
Temporary Food Facility, Annual RC1
Temporary Food Facility, Annual RC2
Temporary Food Facility, Annual RC3
*(Effective 7/1/12)




For more information or questions regarding Certified Farmers’ Market contact:

Christy Kaufman, REHS

Senior Environmental Health Specialist

(408) 918-3478