Farmers markets can exist for many different reasons. No one reason is better than any other, but each market's mission is the basis for its rules and operating procedures.
The Alachua County Farmers' Market (ACFM), was founded to give growers a place to sell home grown produce directly to the public so they can generate sustainable income from farming. By doing so, it has enabled many farmers to keep on farming instead of having to take other jobs or to sell their land for development.
Because of this mission, the ACFM is a grower's only market. What this means is that the people selling produce, plants, and other products at the ACFM must have grown the items themselves. They are NOT allowed to purchase produce from other farms or wholesalers and resell it. That is why there are certain crops, like asparagus, that are not available. They simply don't grow well in Florida.
When you go to the market, you are meeting real farmers. While they may have some non-farming helpers behind their booths, there will be at least one person who can tell you how the crops were grown, whether or not they are organic, and what variety they are. Plant sellers can tell you whether a particular shrub needs shade or sun and how often it should be watered.
By shopping at the ACFM, you are supporting Florida farmers at the same time as getting wonderful fresh produce and beautiful plants at a great price. We thank you for helping Florida agriculture thrive.
The Alachua County Farmers' Market operates as a Florida Not-for-Profit Corporation under Chapter 617. The board of directors are volunteers that make basic decisions about running the market and act in the best interest of the market and it's members.
Managing a farmers market can be a lot of work sometimes, so volunteers are always welcome. Anyone interested in getting some good work experience that could possibly lead to employment should send their information to any of the email addresses listed above.
The ACFM owes much of its success as a popular farmers market to the organizations and businesses that make it possible. We'd like to thank the following for their contributions:
The Original Alachua County Farmers' Market (ACFM), was founded in a downtown parking lot at the corner of University Avenue and Main Street in 1972. Former Alachua County Commissioner Ed Turlington was instrumental in creating the market. He was a former Ag Ed teacher who was concerned that “local growers had produce rotting in their fields and no place to sell it to hungry customers.” During that time, produce and plants were sold only during peak seasons. In 1978, the market moved to a location behind the courthouse. The Market then moved to the Star Garage and then later to the Oaks Mall parking lot in the spring of 1985.
In the mid-eighties, through committees comprised of farmers and community leaders with the technical assistance and funding from the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, and Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (FDACS), it was determined that there was a definite need for a permanent market for consumers and growers. In the fall of 1985, the FDACS conducted a feasibility study and determined that there was enough interest among farmers to provide support for a full-time market. Hence, in 1986, $80,000 was allocated by the State Legislature through the 1986 FDACS budget to be used for research and development of a permanent farmers' market. In November 1986, a survey of local needs entitled, “Focus on Alachua County” was jointly sponsored by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, and the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). The survey showed that the local citizens would definitely support a farmers' market. In late 1986, a report to the County Commission from the Farmers' Market Organization Committee recommended the establishment of a Board of Directors for the Farmers' Market. The Organization Committee included Tom Batey, Carlton DeLoach, Jim Ferguson, Lee Palmore, Pat Patterson, Tom Wood, and Chairman Al Snapp. Following their recommendation, the initial Board of Directors was established, which included Chairman Kent Doke, Larry Rogers, Carlton DeLoach, Cotton Fletcher, Myron Bryan, and Charles Smith. For further support of the Market, an additional $100,000 was allocated by the State Legislature through the 1987 FDACS budget.
By 1987, a total of $180,000 had been allocated by the Florida Legislature in the FDACS budget to be specifically used for the purchase of land and building construction for a retail farmers’ market. In 1987, IFAS, the University of Florida, and the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners shared equally in funding a person to help establish a more stable temporary market and start the construction of a permanent facility. Jean Feingold was hired as the Market Manager in September 1987 and served until March 31, 1990. Between March 24, 1987, and October 4, 1988, four (4) Memoranda of Understandings (MOU), were developed between the government agencies involved, describing the partnership between each entity. The major goal of each agreement was for the development of a retail farmers’ market in Alachua County, Florida. The MOU truly emphasizes that the ACFM is the product of a joint effort by the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, FDACS, the Florida Cooperative Extensive Service, IFAS, and the University of Florida.
In May 1988, the market moved to the former automobile inspection station at the intersection of SR 121 and US 441 with Alachua County Commissions' approval. That fall, the Market had sufficient produce and plants to remain open Saturdays year-round. The County Commission did agree to use the allocated funds from the FDACS budget to build a permanent market on county-owned land adjacent to the old automobile inspection facility. The County approval occurred on March 21, 1989. The site plan was approved by the County Commission on June 20, 1989, with the City Planning Board approval taking place July 27, 1989. The City Commission approved the rezoning of the site on August 7, 1989. Construction bids were accepted in July 1990 and the actual ground-breaking ceremony was on December 18, 1990 (Photo 1). The new Market pavilion grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was May 4, 1991. Early construction photographs of the market facility are included as Photos 2 and 3.
Until 1990, there was much uncertainty and discussion as to how the Farmers' Market would be organized as a business. A Farmers' Market Workshop was held October 8, 1989, to determine the operational framework for the Farmers' Market. From this workshop, an “Operating Framework for the Farmers' Market” was developed. Of particular interest in this plan was the designation of the Alachua County Extension Service as having administrative responsibility for the operation of the Market. The manager of the Market was to be a county employee hired through the Alachua County Department of Personnel. Operating funds for the Market were to be a part of the Extension Service budget. Based upon the recommendations from this workshop, the existing Board of Directors would in the future known as the Alachua County Farmers’ Market Managerial Committee.
The County Commission subsequently rejected the proposal of the Farmers' Market Workshop and told the Farmers' Market Board of Directors that they must become self-sufficient. Therefore, fees were initially charged to growers beginning January 1, 1990, and plans were made for incorporation of the Farmers' Market as a Florida Not-for-Profit Corporation.
The Articles of Incorporation for the Alachua County Farmers' Market, Inc., were filed with the Secretary of State, State of Florida, on June 22, 1990, at 2:04 pm, and assigned Document No. N38748. The first Board of Directors' meeting was held June 30, 1990, with the following board members: Carlton DeLoach, President; Linda Hart, Vice-President; Virginia Palmore, Treasurer; and George Fletcher, Secretary. Other members present included Myron Bryan, Ralph Lee, and Ronald Case.
The first By-Laws were adopted June 1, 1990, and revisions have been performed several times. These By-Laws were adopted from original By-Laws used by the market established January 6, 1988, and revised April 5, 1990. Since initial adoption, revision dates are as follows: October 15, 1992; February 10, 1998; January 22, 1998; July 22, 1999; September 6, 1999; October 21, 1999; November 8, 1999; November 17, 1999; and October 21, 2004.
On September 10, 1991, ACFM, Inc. filed Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and Form 8718, User Fee for Exempt Organization Determination Letter Request, with the Internal Revenue Service to apply for Federal Tax Exempt Status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. An initial letter of denial indicating the ACFM was not entitled to exemption from Federal Income Tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code was received January 29, 1992. A final letter of denial was received April 23, 1992. Similarly it has been determined that the ACFM does not quality for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(5).
The ACFM presently and in the past operates as a Florida Not-for-Profit Corporation under Chapter 617. Hence, the ACFM, as well as its Board of Directors, is subject to and is protected by all of the provisions of Chapter 617, Florida Statutes. The ACFM currently manages the US 441 Farmers' Market facility through a lease agreement with the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners.