In 1986 a group of seven Del Mar residents got together and decided to organize a farmer’s market. Their vision was to bring the concept of healthy living to Del Mar and to make the connection between the local farms and the local community.
The group sought advice from the manager of the Vista Farmer’s Market since this was the only farmer’s market around at the time. Vista’s manager offered up one of his assistants and the group was off and running, but not before having to jump through some regulatory hoops that would make their market official.
On November 22, 1986, after gaining permission from the Del Mar City Council, a license from the city of Del Mar, certification from the county which provided guidelines from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Del Mar Certified Farmers Market was open for business.
The market was held on Saturday afternoons, so that farmers from Vista could also provide their goods to the citizens of Del Mar. The market offered fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, live plants and fresh cut flowers. All produce came from local farms as close as Carlsbad and no further than Riverside.
Originally, the upper city hall parking lot was the site of the market. This site provided great visibility from the street, but didn’t provide great handicap access, and thus the market was moved to the lower city hall parking lot in 2000 to provide better handicap parking and access.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Del Mar’s Farmers Market is its non-profit status. The market founders felt strongly that our market should be a non-profit and that the profits should be distributed to local charities and for educational scholarships that would benefit the farmers’ children.
It was an arduous process, but within two years, the market obtained a non-profit, 501(c) 4 status. Every week each farmer pays a small percentage of their markets’ sales to cover operating expenses, and the balance is used for charitable purposes.
In the last 32 years, the Del Mar Farmers Market has given over $200,000 back to the community. Money earned from the Del Mar Farmers Market has found its way into the Del Mar Library, the Powerhouse, San Dieguito River Valley, regional non-governmental charities and educational scholarships.
The Del Mar Certified Farmers Market is still the only completely non-profit market in San Diego County.