Earth Markets are farmers’ markets that have been established according to guidelines that follow the Slow Food philosophy.
These community-run markets are important social meeting points, where local producers offer healthy, quality food directly to consumers at fair prices and guarantee environmentally sustainable methods. In addition, they preserve the food culture of the local community and contribute to defending biodiversity.
An Earth Market is created when an interested community – producers, local authorities, citizens, Slow Food convivia and other interested parties such as restaurateurs – come together to establish a new place for consumers and food producers to meet. A management committee, with representation from all these groups, is responsible for selecting the producers, promoting the market, and ensuring the guidelines are followed. They are also required to manage the logistical aspects of the market, and to ensure that the environmental impact is minimized: e.g. with waste reduction, biodegradable consumables, recycling, and energy-saving measures.
Producers must demonstrate their suitability before they are permitted to sell at Earth Markets. The focus is on small-scale farmers and artisan producers, providing them with an important opportunity in which they do not have to compete with large distribution chains. Small-scale production is also favored as it often produces high-quality results. Producers are asked to charge a fair price for their work and pledge fair treatment of their employees.
A key requirement is for vendors to attend the market themselves and to only sell products that they have produced themselves. As producers are meeting directly with customers, they must be open and willing to talk about their product and its qualities, the work involved, and how the prices are justified.
Producers must come from the local region, within a radius specified for each Earth Market to suit the context.
Earth Markets usually include a wide range of fresh produce, preserves, meat and dairy products, eggs, honey, sweets, bread, oil and beverages.
All produce must meet specific quality criteria, reflecting the Slow Food principles of good, clean and fair:
Good: fresh and seasonal, healthy, tasty and able to stimulate and satisfy the senses.
Clean: environmentally sustainable cultivation and production processes, no GM crops, local.
Fair: accessible prices for consumers and fair compensation and conditions for producers.
In addition, the products help to preserve the food culture of the community hosting the market and contribute to defending biodiversity.