Entrepreneurship & Small Business

selling food at a farmers market?

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 18th, 2017 3:11 pm
[OP]
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
6126 posts
2220 upvotes
Toronto

selling food at a farmers market?

question for those of you that have done this - or direct me to a recent post about this:

my wife is pretty good at baking and has a couple of recipes down pat. She wants to try selling them at a local farmers market. nothing crazy and honestly it's more of a hobby/fun than anything serious (for now).

were just doing some research into the legalities.

A couple of things we're concerned about (or at least I am):


1) I can't seem to find any information about whether or not you can just bake your goods at home, and then take them to the farmers market and sell them.... my initial assumption is that the farmers market people that host /rent the tables would explain this in more detail.

2) Liability: I get that anyone can be sued for anything. What sort of risk would we be open to? I can just think of a number of things off hand:
a) allergies (even though clearly indicating what the items contain)
b) someone gets sick
c) someone chokes?
d) any random stupidity that one can come up with.

3) Calorie labelling? does that even matter? or ingredient labelling?
e.g. would just having a description of the food
"contains X Y Z, contains nuts" be enough?

would we need our own personal insurance for this, or - probably something I can ask the farmers market hosts, if they insure as part of their fee?.

Anyway that's all I can think of at the moment.
10 replies
[OP]
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
6126 posts
2220 upvotes
Toronto
well here is what I found in my research:

1) selling baked goods, you gotta make the food in a kitchen that passes the food safety rules... so you cant make it in your kitchen at home.... most likely you would need to rent a space in a commercial kitchen.

2) liability is always there.... so it seems best case would be to incorporate and have commercial insurance policy... i guess we would need a liability policy only since we dont need to worry about brick/mortar/etc.

so much for that hobby.
Jr. Member
User avatar
Jun 18, 2017
199 posts
63 upvotes
Vancouver
daivey wrote:
Jul 5th, 2017 10:39 pm
well here is what I found in my research:

1) selling baked goods, you gotta make the food in a kitchen that passes the food safety rules... so you cant make it in your kitchen at home.... most likely you would need to rent a space in a commercial kitchen.

2) liability is always there.... so it seems best case would be to incorporate and have commercial insurance policy... i guess we would need a liability policy only since we dont need to worry about brick/mortar/etc.

so much for that hobby.
There's this service/startup(?) in Vancouver that seems like it'd be ideal for figuring this out, maybe see if there's a similar one in Toronto?

https://commissaryconnect.com/
That's my name...
Member
May 14, 2013
323 posts
234 upvotes
Edmonton
Legally, you cannot sell food for public consumption without a food handler license.

As far as liability, let your imagination go wild. However, to avoid some liability claims against you. Have signage/packaging highly visible and clear to indicate that you as the seller are not responsible or liable for whatever concerns and it is at the customer's discretion (buyer beware). While this isn't ironclad, courts may find that you were still negligent but it does cover you to an extent. Better to be safe than sorry at the end of the day. If you feel that whatever you're selling poses a health risk above and beyond the "norm"... For example: choking... on your packaging say something like "WARNING: may pose choking hazard if ingested in large portions. Ingest in small portions" something around that line... Courts will be sympathetic to you as the defendant in the case of a choking claim.

In other cases like allergie concerns... Just indicate on the package "WARNING: may contain traces of XXX (eg. peanuts) or prepared in a facility where XXX present" that will cover you for allergy claims.
Member
User avatar
Apr 1, 2011
215 posts
13 upvotes
Niagara Falls
Dont give up the hobby Ontario Food Premises act has a specific exemption for home baked goods sold at farmers markets. You require a commercial kitchen when you want to offer food that can spoil or needs to be kept at a certain temp. City/ town owned halls are commercial kitchens and those are pretty inexpensive to rent.

As far as liability goes people should understand that their shopping at a stand and not McDonald's. But you still don't want to be passing on food borne illnesses. Choking is a possibility when eat. Maybe a label that states possible nut/ dairy used?

I think some issues might be finding a farmers market that will accept your product. Or, how is your product different from other vendors that are already established. Just stating don't actually know if that's how they operate.
[OP]
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
6126 posts
2220 upvotes
Toronto
lots of great info thanks guys.

right now, the liability is to high for us, we stand to lose too much from a lawsuit and no insurance. so I think if we are going to pursue this, we will need to incorporate and get insurance in place. That's not that big of a deal though... and then yeah, just rent a commercial kitchen... I saw a few already $15 to $20 an hour from the city. Quite cheap.... so a pretty easy hobby to get started in I think... $1,000 spend should be all setup and ready to go i think - incorporate with a liability policy (I haven't looked but im sure since all I need is a barebones liability policy should be reasonable). but I think we will work on fine tuning our recipes with family and friends first and then take it from there if we want to get experience.
Banned
Jun 19, 2017
256 posts
180 upvotes
daivey wrote:
Jul 10th, 2017 8:14 pm
lots of great info thanks guys.

right now, the liability is to high for us, we stand to lose too much from a lawsuit and no insurance. so I think if we are going to pursue this, we will need to incorporate and get insurance in place. That's not that big of a deal though... and then yeah, just rent a commercial kitchen... I saw a few already $15 to $20 an hour from the city. Quite cheap.... so a pretty easy hobby to get started in I think... $1,000 spend should be all setup and ready to go i think - incorporate with a liability policy (I haven't looked but im sure since all I need is a barebones liability policy should be reasonable). but I think we will work on fine tuning our recipes with family and friends first and then take it from there if we want to get experience.
Dont bother with food. Too much risk and liability especially if you're not a corporation as you said. 15-20 an hour is still pretty high unless you have a lot of free workers or your product is 90% profit
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 16, 2012
3018 posts
298 upvotes
Mississauga
Being part of a Farmers Market i have some experience with this , using a commercial Kitchen is a must, there are some you can rent throughout the GTA where your wife can make her goods.
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 16, 2011
1979 posts
1082 upvotes
Clarington
daivey wrote:
Jul 5th, 2017 9:54 pm
question for those of you that have done this - or direct me to a recent post about this:

my wife is pretty good at baking and has a couple of recipes down pat. She wants to try selling them at a local farmers market. nothing crazy and honestly it's more of a hobby/fun than anything serious (for now).

were just doing some research into the legalities.

A couple of things we're concerned about (or at least I am):


1) I can't seem to find any information about whether or not you can just bake your goods at home, and then take them to the farmers market and sell them.... my initial assumption is that the farmers market people that host /rent the tables would explain this in more detail.

2) Liability: I get that anyone can be sued for anything. What sort of risk would we be open to? I can just think of a number of things off hand:
a) allergies (even though clearly indicating what the items contain)
b) someone gets sick
c) someone chokes?
d) any random stupidity that one can come up with.

3) Calorie labelling? does that even matter? or ingredient labelling?
e.g. would just having a description of the food
"contains X Y Z, contains nuts" be enough?

would we need our own personal insurance for this, or - probably something I can ask the farmers market hosts, if they insure as part of their fee?.

Anyway that's all I can think of at the moment.
I sell smoked fish at 7 different farmers markets in the GTA and cottage country. I'd ignore any and all information in this thread. Most of the replies are from people not in Ontario and are therefore unable to appropriately answer.

1) The Ontario Food Premise Regulation 562 (https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900562) provides certain exemptions for farmers’ markets. One of these exemptions is that vendors at a farmers’ market can offer for sale non-hazardous homemade products such as baked goods and fruit jams/jellies. Home prepared foods are not allowed at Community Markets. Your home kitchen needs to be inspected by your local health department to ensure there are no broad health hazards. Here is a checklist that Durham health uses for their home based kitchens: http://imgur.com/bw9MKTw

2) There is specific liability insurance for what you're doing. We pay $1800/year. This covers not only your risk of if people get sick, but also if your tent blows away and hurts someone or damages property, etc.

3) Don't worry about calories or labeling for baked goods.

There are some more specific rules if you plan on sampling items at the market. Food prepared AT the market is also exempt.

The biggest hurdle you will find is locating a market at this point that needs baked goods. Unfortunately all markets in Toronto at this point (at least the ones that I do) are full and have a full complement of baked goods. I know of a few in the Kawartha's that MIGHT have space though but they are small markets.
[OP]
Penalty Box
Dec 27, 2013
6126 posts
2220 upvotes
Toronto
Bawler wrote:
Jul 17th, 2017 3:06 pm
I sell smoked fish at 7 different farmers markets in the GTA and cottage country. I'd ignore any and all information in this thread. Most of the replies are from people not in Ontario and are therefore unable to appropriately answer.

1) The Ontario Food Premise Regulation 562 (https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900562) provides certain exemptions for farmers’ markets. One of these exemptions is that vendors at a farmers’ market can offer for sale non-hazardous homemade products such as baked goods and fruit jams/jellies. Home prepared foods are not allowed at Community Markets. Your home kitchen needs to be inspected by your local health department to ensure there are no broad health hazards. Here is a checklist that Durham health uses for their home based kitchens: http://imgur.com/bw9MKTw

2) There is specific liability insurance for what you're doing. We pay $1800/year. This covers not only your risk of if people get sick, but also if your tent blows away and hurts someone or damages property, etc.

3) Don't worry about calories or labeling for baked goods.

There are some more specific rules if you plan on sampling items at the market. Food prepared AT the market is also exempt.

The biggest hurdle you will find is locating a market at this point that needs baked goods. Unfortunately all markets in Toronto at this point (at least the ones that I do) are full and have a full complement of baked goods. I know of a few in the Kawartha's that MIGHT have space though but they are small markets.
thanks for the help, the info helps steer me in the right direction.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Mar 31, 2008
9561 posts
1244 upvotes
Toronto
daivey wrote:
Jul 17th, 2017 9:06 pm
thanks for the help, the info helps steer me in the right direction.
I used to go to the U of T Scarborough Farmer's market when they had it in the parking lot. But it's been moved and less vendors. I don't think the guy is around this year when my wife dropped by earlier in the summer, but this guy (older) used to sell gluten free Scones and other baked good products. Made his own lemonade too with Ginger. And another guy sold apple pie type baked goods. The Scone guy I remember said he baked it in his kitchen and enjoyed it. Not sure about the other guy, but also seemed to be the same. I said if the scone guy actually had a business or sold it separately, I would definitely go by and get them.

As mentioned above, you'll be good. Hard to go wrong with baked goods. But looks like it isn't easy getting a spot. When it's 'unique' or good, people will gladly pay, especially knowing supply is limited. I didn't even pay attention to the price really. Just what I could reasonably eat before it started to go stale. Now they weren't super expensive, but it wasn't cheap either. The guy would sell out often too so I'm sure he didn't make alot, but a few areas a week with that type of business, I'm sure he still made decent change after his expenses.

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