Once you’ve established your small farm and regularly produce, it’s time to sell your wares. You have an almost endless list of options as far as where you can sell your products, but for most, the choice comes down to selling from home or selling at a farmer’s market. Here are the pros and cons of each option. Remember, choose what works best for you!
Selling from home
Most states have rules called “Cottage Food Laws.” Cottage laws allow you to sell products from your home but under very specific regulations. The regulations vary quite a lot depending on where you live and what you’re selling. States also stipulate that you can only earn up to a certain amount under cottage law, which is usually in the five-figure range.
You’re not allowed to sell things like meat or low-acid canned foods since there’s a risk for botulism. Depending on the state, you might need a kitchen inspection or a food safety course.
Under cottage laws, you generally can’t sell your food in local stores or restaurants, either. That would require FDA compliance, a business license, and a more formal setup. So, while it’s legal to sell food from your home, it does require you to jump through a few hoops.
There are some great upsides to selling from your home. First, you get to keep your profits. Selling at a farmer’s market generally costs booth fees. Second, you don’t have to sell every week if you don’t feel like it. If your supply is touch-and-go, selling at home makes more sense as you scale production. The downside to selling from home is that you have to do all the selling and marketing yourself. It’s unlikely that you’ll get shoppers off the street to buy from you, which means making a living selling at home can be tricky.
Selling at a farmer’s market
If you rely on homesteading to make a living, the farmer’s market is a great way to earn regular income. You’re still subject to cottage food laws when you sell at a farmer’s market. However, there’s a big upside to the market in that you have ready-made marketing, hordes of potential shoppers, and fellow homesteaders to support you.
Farmer’s markets do come with added costs, though. Most charge vendors a booth fee or even require city permits. You also need to show up faithfully every week with fresh product; that can be tough if you’re just starting out.
Whether you choose to sell out of your home or at a farmer’s market, both approaches have pros and cons. Keep in mind that, no matter how you sell, you do need to comply with state and local food safety laws.