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Farm Stands

Where are farm stands allowed?

Farm stands are allowed in the following property zones in the Unincorporated areas of the County.
NOTE: For City properties, check with your municipality

  • LIA Land Intensive Agriculture
    Honor stand
  • LEA Land Extensive Agriculture
  • DA Diverse Agriculture
  • RRD Resources and Rural Development
  • AR Agriculture and Residential 

To determine your property zone, use Permit and Resource Management Department's Zoning & Parcel Report.

When is a Building Permit Required?

  • A farm stand consisting of tables and temporary (i.e. pop-up) shading is NOT considered a structure and therefore is not subject to the building code. 
  • A structure that does not exceed 120 square feet and is less than 12 feet tall with no waste plumbing does NOT require a building permit.  This structure is not to be used as a place for customers, but you can sell out of it and store product in it.  The California Building Code Section 106.2(1) exempts single-story detached accessory building(s) used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet from required building permits.
  • If the structure will be used by customers or exceeds 120 square feet, a building permit is required and Accessibility requirements will apply. Parking, restrooms, paths of travel, entrances, aisle width, point of sales… All will have to comply with Chapter 11B of the California Building Code.
  • When is a Building Permit Not Required? (pdf) and No Permit Required YouTube by Permit & Resource Management Department. 

What can be Sold at a Farm Stand?

farm stand
Food sales at a farm stand must be limited to the following (see On Farm Retail Sales to compare 'Farm Stand' to 'Farm Retail Sales'):

  • Whole produce and shell eggs.
  • Nonpotentially hazardous prepackaged food products from and approved source including:
    • Value added farm products from an Approved Source that were grown or produced in close proximity to the farm. NOTE: "Approved Source" includes products made in a Cottage Food Operations
    • Non-farm products from an approved source that were not grown or produced in close proximity to the farm. Examples include bottled water and bagged chips (limited to a 50 square feet storage and sales area).

Food Safety Rules:

From California Retail Food Code (CALCode) 114371:

  • All food must be stored at least six inches above the floor or ground.
  • No live animals, fowl or other birds are permitted within 20 feet of any area where food is stored or held for sale. This does not apply to guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs when used in the manner specified in Section 54.1 of the Civil Code. This section of the civil code addresses individuals with disabilities or medical conditions and their right to full and free use of all public places that are available to the general public.
  • All garbage and refuse must be stored and disposed in a manner approved by EHD. Approved manner includes either subscribing for garbage service or obtaining a garbage exemption to allow self-hauling to an appropriate disposal site.
  • All prepackaged processed food products offered for sale must be from approved sources and be stored in approved vermin proof structures or containers when the farm stand is closed.

What if we want to Offer Samples?

Food preparation is prohibited at a farm stand except food samples, when offered in accordance with sampling guidelines described below.

A retail food facility permit is required when offering samples. Obtain the permit from Sonoma County Department of Health Services. See Farm Stands for an overview.

Sampling Guidelines for Farm Stands from CA Retail Food Code 114375:

  • Potable water must be used for hand washing and sanitizing utensils.
  • Food intended for sampling must be washed or cleaned by potable water to keep it wholesome and safe for consumption.
  • Utensils and produce cutting surfaces must be smooth, non-absorbent, and easily cleanable, or approved single-use articles must be utilized.
  • Clean, disposable plastic gloves must be used when cutting food samples.
  • Samples must be kept in approved, clean, covered containers.
  • Potentially hazardous food samples must be held at or below 45°F and must be disposed of within two hours after cutting (e.g. ice baths for cut melons, tomatoes, etc).
  • All food samples must be offered in a sanitary manner.
  • Wastewater must be disposed through connection to an approved public sewer system or in a manner approved by Department of Health Services.
  • Approved toilet and hand washing facilities must be available, within 200 feet of the farm stand for use by farm stand operators and their employees when food sampling is conducted.