Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute

The Mission of the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute is to:

  1. Assist farmers and other land based producers in the production and promotion of agricultural produce, products and value added products.
  2. Promote, foster and encourage small farm and ranch operations and other rural land based operations in furtherance of the health, environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being of those dependent upon the land.
  3. Engage in research, education, agricultural extension services, experiments, investigations, analyses and studies to benefit the advancement of agriculture and to foster and develop scientific methods for the application and dissemination of the results thereof.
  4. Assist, promote, foster, encourage and preserve the historical land based lifestyle, traditions and culture of New Mexico.
  5. Represent and advocate the legitimate common interests of farmers, agriculturists, horticulturists, agro-artists, socially disadvantaged and other under-served land-based people.
  6. Hold title to land and participate in the development of land in the furtherance of this mission.
  7. Establish and maintain courses of study, educational activities and events related to the study of agriculture, value added agriculture and agro-art

The Importance of the Market

The Cultural, nutritional and economic impacts of the Santa fe farmers’ market

In 1994, there were about 1700 farmers markets nationwide.  As of 2009 there were close to 5300.  When the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market first started back in the late 1960s, it was a group of farmers who were selling out of the back of their pickups.  With a little help from the League of Women Voters and the County Extension office, some rules and regulations were put into place that have helped guide the Market, and helped it grow into New Mexico’s oldest and largest farmers market and one of the top ten nationally, according to Sunset Magazine.  The foresight of our founders guarantees access to fresh nutritious food that has the following three hallmarks: agricultural, local and direct.
The 80/20 Rule

The “agricultural” moniker is of utmost importance, especially lately.  New Mexico has lost 200,000 acres of farmland since 2000 and more than 500 farms.  When agricultural lands disappear, the land dries up, water rights are often lost or transferred, and lovely greenbelts around our cities disappear.  Then we become even more dependent on store-bought food, which travels an average of 1400 miles to market and reaches the shelf up to two weeks after it was harvested, depleting its taste and nutritional value.  The founders of the Market wanted to keep the focus on produce, to not let the Market slip into the habit of selling everything from food to flea market items.  Their rule was that at least 80% of the vendors at the market sell produce, meats and dairy.  The other 20% would be reserved for value added products, like jams and salsas, baked goods, etc.  By creating the 80/20 rule, the Market has, since the late 1960s, helped to preserve and sustain agriculture in northern New Mexico.

Food to Table

How far does our food travel to Market?  On average 44 miles.  This means it is picked the day before and sold the next day at the Market.  Conventionally grown food gets to you about two weeks after it was harvested, which is why when you buy a bag of lettuce at a grocery store chain, it often spoils within days.  But at the Farmers’ Market, your salad stays fresh for weeks, plus it tastes better and has more nutrients.

Market Goods

What can you find at the Market?  Produce; processed foods; nursery stock and cut flowers; meat, dairy, honey and bee products and eggs; crafts; mushrooms; and herbal, therapeutic and toiletry products.  To ensure the agricultural products are “local,” the founders required that everything sold at the Market be cultivated, or gathered, plant crops grown in the local area.  Products of domesticated animals (livestock, rabbits, poultry and fowl, bees and fish) must be raised in the local area; and all processed and crafted items must contain a majority of local content.

Whats local got to do with it?

The Farmers’ Market considers “local” to be from 15 counties in the northern half of the state, so, with the exception of three out of region vendors who sell chicken, pecans and pistachios, all 150 members of the Market come from this region.

By putting emphasis on locally produced agricultural products, the Market set the foundations decades ago to make a major impact on our regional agrarian economy.  The Market generates over $2 million in sales.  Studies have found that for every dollar spent at a farmers’ market, another $3 is spent in the surrounding community.  So, the majority of the $2+ million in sales goes home in farmers’ pockets to support rural economies and an estimated $6+ million in cross sales to other businesses and restaurants stays right here in Santa Fe to power our own economy.

Buying locally keeps money circulating closer to where you spend it.  Corporate chains send most of your money out of town.  For every dollar spent at a local business, 45 cents is reinvested locally.  For every dollar spent at a corporate chain, only 15 cents gets reinvested locally.
Know your local Farmer

“Direct” means that farmers are only allowed to sell fresh fruits and vegetables that they, themselves grow.  Reselling (buying cheap imported agricultural products, marking them up and reselling them at the Market) is not permitted, although farmers are allowed to sell a limited amount of produce grown from farms or other current market members on a temporary basis, with the Market’s approval.   This is important because we want you to know your grower!  We want to provide to our customers with a community-building experience that links urban and rural people on an ongoing basis.  The Market provides tourists with a year-round, weekly opportunity to mingle with locals and northern New Mexicans, and buy traditional, regional food.  Locals gravitate to the Market because of the weekly opportunity to enjoy a community gathering and to buy fresh, local food.  The Master Plan’s call for the Farmers’ Market to remain in the Railyard had to do with recognizing its contribution to the economic success of the Railyard development and to the economy of downtown Santa Fe.

The Market serves more than 180,000 people annually and averages, in the summer, about 6,000 customers every Saturday. Buying from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market means more than just access to fresh, nutritious, locally produced food.  It means that customers are cutting down on greenhouse gases that are created in the transportation of store-bought food.  It means customers are helping to strengthen our food security by supporting local farmers to stay on the land, strengthening the economic success of the Railyard and downtown Santa Fe.

Our large customer base helps to keep northern New Mexico agricultural lands in use and water rights on the land, which creates green belts around our cities and habitat for wildlife.  Strong local agriculture helps to replenish our aquifers and preserves our acequia systems.  When farmers are successful, it demonstrates to youth a viable lifestyle that they can learn from their elders, which strengthens communities and creates locally based, rural economies.  When rural economies can provide jobs, it takes the strain off of cities like Santa Fe, that often have to accommodate people coming in from the country to find work.  The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, by providing a commercial vending space for local farmers, makes a huge difference in the quality of our lives in northern New Mexico.

Contact Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute

Sam Baca
Program Director
1607 Paseo de Peralta
Ste A
Santa Fe, New Mexico  87501
Phone: 505-983-7726


Service Area

Services provided in:
  • Santa Fe County, New Mexico

To request additions or corrections to this entry email the Administrator