The Buzz: Urban Agriculture Initiative in Somerville, MA

For anybody living in an urban area, you are probably well aware that there is little free space to be growing your own fruits and vegetables, let alone raise chickens or partake in beekeeping.  Well luckily, here where I live in Somerville, MA, Mayor Curtatone has formulated an Urban Agriculture Initiative, which allows (and encourages) residents to grow and sell their own produce, eggs, and honey.

Here is the run down on what you can and can’t sell.  Read the full initiative here.

WHAT you can sell

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Protection Program’s (FPP) interpretation of farm products currently includes:

1. Fresh Produce (fresh uncut fruits and vegetables), see soil test requirements below
2. Unprocessed honey (Raw honey as defined by the National Honey Board: Honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without added heat.)*
3. Maple syrup
4. Farm fresh eggs (must be stored and maintained at 45°F (7.2°C).* For the sale of all other food products, you need a license as a retail food operation.

*Please note that while you do not need a permit to sell honey or eggs, you do need a permit to keep bees and chickens.

WHERE and HOW you can sell

1. You can sell produce, eggs, maple syrup and honey between the hours of 9:00am and 6:00pm, from May 1 – October 31 of each year.
2. You are not allowed to sell your products at City-run community gardens, parks or public land.
3. To be respectful of residential areas, you can only sell your products three (3) days per week and not
more than twenty-five (25) days per year.
4. Your sale area can’t take up more than 50 sf of your property.
5. You can’t put any sale display or farmstand on the public sidewalk or street or block vehicle or pedestrian flow.
6. Sales displays, farmstands, and signs must be stored out of site when you are not selling.
7. Only one sign is allowed and it can’t be larger 6’ SF (six square feet).

SOIL Test Requirements for selling produce

If sell your produce, you are required to post your annual soil test results at the point of sale. The City of Somerville recommends that produce be grown in soil with under 300 ppm of total lead.

Get a soil test at UMASS Amherst Extension Services:

Any plans to grow or raise anything in your yard or community garden plot this summer?


*this photo was actually taken in Portland, OR 🙂

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