She can grow some mean salad greens. “So healthy for you and your family,” she’ll cheerfully tell the customer who makes regular stops at her booth at the local farmers market.
At another booth, a farmer has some farm-made cheese on display. “Comes from cows that are raised out on grass,” he says to a group of customers wandering through the farmers market and stopping at his booth.
At a restaurant on Main Street, a farmer proudly holds up his strawberries for the chef, who buys his berries on a regular basis. “Real beauties,” he says. “They’re large and red-ripe. Your diners will love them. Sweet and juicy and no pesticides.”
These farmers have several things in common. They would be identified as small-scale farmers and therefore exempt from many provisions, such as mandatory inspections, in the Food Safety Modernization Act. They primarily sell direct to their customers.
They also have something else that’s even more valuable. Their customers’ trust.
On a business level, that’s of utmost importance, Rachel Armstrong, founder and executive director of Farm Commons, will quickly say. But while knowing how to farm and having a loyal customer base is one thing, knowing how to keep your customers safe from foodborne pathogen problems and your farm safe from lawsuits is another.