Hopewell Farmers Market Manager Tisha Sawyer helps a shopper

Virginia Farmers Market Association
Kim Hutchinson, PhD, MBA
Virginia Farmers Market Association
Executive Director
14241 Midlothian Turnpike, #153
Midlothian, Virginia 23113

May 29, 2024

Virginia Farmers Market Association announces 2024 Virginia Certified Farmers Markets

19 Virginia farmers markets achieve gold status.
Press event scheduled for June 15, 2024.

MIDLOTHIAN, VA May 29, 2024 – On May 29, 2024, the Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA) announced the inaugural list of the 2024 Virginia Gold Certified Farmers Markets. The program recognizes farmers markets that meet and exceed industry best practices.

Please join us to learn more about the Virginia Certified Farmers Market System on June 15, 2024 at 10:00 am at the RVA Big Market in Bryan Park in Richmond, VA. We have reserved parking for confirmed attendees to make it easier for you to join us!

The Virginia Certified Farmers Market System is a certification program for farmers markets launched in 2024.

  • Created by the Virginia Farmers Market Association in partnership with market managers, state agency and university staff.
  • Examines 11 categories of farmers market management.
  • 19 farmers markets achieved Gold certification status this year. (list below)
  • Press event scheduled for June 15, 2024 10:00 AM EDT at the RVA Big Market in Bryan Park at 4308 Hermitage Rd, Richmond, VA 23227. RSVP requested.

As the gold standard for farmers markets in Virginia, certification refers to markets that are managed using best practices in categories such as food safety, food origin, food access, public safety, and consumer education. The standards of the program, which is open to all Virginia markets, were developed by an advisory committee made-up of market managers, state agency and university staff. See the full set of standards.

The standards also cover outreach and marketing. “At a time when feed and seed prices are skyrocketing, and farmers face increasingly challenging weather conditions, it is essential that Virginia’s farmers markets are thriving marketplaces,” said Kim Hutchinson, Executive Director of VAFMA. She continued “a market that takes the step to become certified lets vendors know that the market has clear policies and takes promotion and outreach to new shoppers seriously.”

Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers and food entrepreneurs. According to the USDA, direct marketing farmers experience lower rates of farm business failure or bankruptcy than growers who sell exclusively wholesale. (source)

“A tremendous amount of work goes into running a successful farmers market,” said Meredith Ledlie Johnson, coordinator of the certification program. “This program recognizes and supports farmers markets for making that effort.”

The 2024 Virginia Gold Certified Farmers Markets include:

Blacksburg Farmers Market
Charlottesville City Market
Downtown South Boston Farmers Market
Falls Church Farmer Market
Goochland Farmers Market
Historic Manassas Farmers Market
Hopewell Farmers Market
Lynchburg Community Market
Manakin Market (Goochland County)
Marion Farmers Market
Powhatan Village Farmers Market
River Street Market (Petersburg City)
Rocky Mount Farmers Market
RVA Big Market (Richmond City)
Salem Farmers Market
Smithfield Farmers Market
South of the James Farmers Market (Richmond City)
Surry County Farmers Market
Williamsburg Farmers Market

“We are honored to receive gold certification for the RVA Big Market and the South of the James Market,” said Karen Grisevich, owner of GrowRVA. “We have high standards – especially when it comes to food safety, affordable access, and our producer-only policy. This certification recognizes the ongoing work we’re doing to make sure our markets are safe, welcoming, and transparent places to shop.”

To achieve certification, a farmers market earns points by adhering to standards in a variety of categories. For example, a few of the measures taken by the RVA Big Market that resulted in earning Gold, the highest level, include that the market:

  • requires all food vendors to attend an annual food safety training event hosted by VAFMA;
  • ensures that customers are able to spend their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Farm Market Fresh vouchers (Senior and WIC produce checks) at the market; and
  • maintains and is transparent about its food origin policy. (where the food comes from)

There are three levels of certification — Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Each level is based on a simple point system. The more points that a market has the higher the level of certification.

VAFMA conducts random site visits for verification of market-reported information. Certification lasts for a year and then the process begins anew, ensuring that markets continue to uphold these standards from one season to the next.

About the Virginia Farmers Market Association
The Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA) is a member‐based, statewide association supporting Virginia’s 267 farmers markets. VAFMA offers education initiatives, while building opportunities for collaboration, networking, advocacy, and innovation that support the growth and sustainability of farmers and farmers markets statewide.

Visit www.vafma.org for more information.