Farmers Market and Home Based Vendor Requirements

farmers-market-vector-produce.jpg Farmers Markets are locations or events where local farmers sell a variety of fruits, vegetables and other farm products to the public. In addition to produce, you may find other food products like honey, ciders, cheese, eggs, and meat at a farmers market each from local producers. The Porter County Health Department Food Service Division works with the Market Masters and conducts inspections during the market season to ensure food safety and permitting requirements are met. Vendors offering only whole, uncut fruits and vegetables, honey and syrup, and other very low risk foods are exempt from permitting as a Retail Food Establishment.

Home Based Vendors

In May 2009, the Indiana State Legislature passed House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1309 (PDF). HEA 1309 excludes Home Based Vendors (HBVs) offering food at Farmers Markets and Roadside Stands from the definition of a "food establishment". A Home Based Vendor may prepare and sell certain food products that do not present a significant public health risk without permitting or inspection. The Home Based Vendor must practice proper food safety procedures, including proper hand washing, sanitation of food contact surfaces, and safe storage of food product, including protection during display and service. Porter County Health Department may inspect food products and/or labeling to ensure that the Home Based Vendor is maintaining their exemption status.

Home Based Vendor Overview

  • A Home Based Vendor may only sell their food products at a Farmers Market or Roadside Stand.
  • Home Based Vendor foods may not be sold at any other venue, such as grocery stores, restaurants, fairs/festivals, and may not be sold with the intent to be resold. Preordering is acceptable; however, the consumer must take possession of the food at a Farmers Market or Roadside Stand.
  • The production area of a Home Based Vendor is required to be in the vendor's primary residence and will not be routinely inspected.
  • The Home Based Vendor cannot commingle the activities of a Home Based Vendor and those of a regulated food establishment. If the Home Based Vendor sells food products other than those produced in the home, such as commercially prepared foods, then it becomes a "food establishment". A vendor must be designated as either a Home Based Vendor or a food establishment – not both.
  • All home based vendor food products must have proper labeling which states:
    • Producer's name and address
    • Common name of food product
    • Ingredients of food product
    • Net weight and volume
    • Date food product was processed
    • The following statement in at least 10 point type: "This product is home produced and processed and the production area has not been inspected by the State Department of Health."
       Note: This labeling must be present with and/or on the food at the point of sale regardless of whether or not the food is packaged. Unpackaged food, such as some baked goods, will be considered labeled when there is easily readable signage accompanying the food product stating all of the above listed items. Labeling is not required for whole, uncut produce.
  • Foods that may create a public health risk are considered potentially hazardous food and may not be produced and sold under the Home Based Vendor exemption. Potentially hazardous food product includes a food that requires temperature control. The most basic definition of a potentially hazardous food is a food that contains conditions (food ingredients, packaging, and/or storage) that allows disease-causing bacteria to grow, potentially leading to foodborne illness.

The table below provides some examples of foods that may or may not be produced and sold under the home based vendor exemption.

Examples of Foods that May Be and May Not Be Sold by HBVs

Food TypeFoods That May Be SoldFoods That May Not be Sold
Baked GoodsCookies, cakes, fruit pies, cupcakes, bars, yeast breads, fruit breads, baguettesFoods that contain meat, poultry, aquatic animals, non-dairy (cheese,butter,yogurt), non-baked egg containing products and whole eggs
Candies and ConfectionsCaramels, chocolate fudge, peanut brittle, chocolate covered fruits, bon bons, buckeyes, chocolate covered nuts
Fruits and VegetablesUnprocessed, whole and uncut items such as cherries, blackberries, cranberries, grapefruit, strawberries, oranges, blueberries,plums,tomatoes, corn, lettuce, green beans, peppers, etc.
Fruit-based jams and jellies (made from strawberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, etc.) Fermented pickles that do not require acidification and do not require refrigeration.
Canned products that are shelf-stable and in hermetically sealed containers such as salsas, chutney, chow-chow, and canned vegetables.
Pickled vegetables (beets, pickles) that are shelf-stable
Cut tomatoes and cut melons
Garlic in oil mixtures, herb and oil mixtures
Raw seed sprouts
Fruit butters (i.e. pear, pumpkin) "Low sugar" or "no sugar added" jellies and jams
Meat, Poultry, and SeafoodNone identified.Canned products that are shelf-stable and in hermetically sealed containers such as canned vegetables, canned meats, and canned seafood.
Tree Nuts and LegumesPeanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, etc.
SyrupsHoney, molasses, sorghum, maple syrup

Market Masters

A Market Master is an individual or group of individuals that are responsible for coordinating and organizing the Farmers Market. Market Masters must register a Farmers Market with the Porter County Health Department Food Service Division at least 30 days prior to the first date of operation. The registration must include a list of all food vendors participating at the farmers market, including not-for-profit organizations, farmers and home based vendors. This registration allows the Food Service Division to ensure that the food vendors participating at the market are made aware of local permitting requirements, state and local food codes and guidelines, and exempt food vendors follow food safety guidelines. There is no charge for the registration. Click here for a Farmers Market Registration Application packet (PDF).

It is the responsibility of the Market Master to ensure their food vendors obtain approval by the Health Department prior to operating at their event. Food vendors meeting the definition of a "food establishment" are required to obtain a food permit by the Porter County Health Department, and application must be made at least 7 days prior to operating at the Farmers Market. A home based vendor is not required to obtain a food permit, but still needs to register with the Market Master and must be included on the food vendor list. We request that you inform all food vendors participating at the event to contact the Porter County Health Department Food Service Division, at 219-465-3525 option 4, for information on food permitting and food safety requirements and guidelines.

For additional food code and permitting requirements for regulated food establishments operating at farmers markets, refer to the Temporary Event and Mobile Unit and Pushcart webpages.

Farmers Market Contact Information:

Porter County Health Department –
Food Service Division . . . . . . . . . (219) 465-3525 option 4

 Board of Animal Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (317) 544-2400

Indiana State Egg Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (765) 494-8510 

Indiana State Department of Health
– Food Protection Program . . . . . . (317) 234-8569

Purdue University Food Science
– Product Testing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(765) 494-7997

Porter County Purdue Extension . . . . . . . . .(219) 465-3555

USDA Agricultural Service. . . . . . . . . . . . . .(260) 563-7486

Farmers Market and Home Based Vendor Regulations and Guidance Documents

Rules & Regulations and Guidance Documents

HEA 1309 Home Based Vendor Rule and ISDH Guidance (2009) (PDF)

IC 16-42-11 Indiana Egg Law (PDF)

Guidelines for Labeling Eggs – Indiana State Egg Board (PDF)

Requirements for Shell Eggs Sold at Farmers Market (PDF)

Farmers Market Guide – Animal Products (PDF)

Farmers Market Guide – Non-Animal Products (PDF)

Sale of Meat, Rabbit and Poultry at Farmers Market (PDF)

Board of Animal Health (BOAH) Poultry Guidelines (PDF)

BOAH Food Safety Advisory – Raw Milk/Dairy Products (PDF)

ISDH Guide on Frozen Meat, Poultry, Rabbit (PDF)

ISDH Guide on Cider Production (PDF)

ISDH Guide on Honey Production (PDF)

ISDH Guide on Maple Syrup Production (PDF)

ISDH Guide on Sorghum Production (PDF)

ISDH Guide on Uncut Fresh Produce (PDF)

Temporary Food Vendor Guidelines (PDF)

Wild Mushrooms - ISDH

Purdue University Resources 

Purdue University Food Science Department

Food Testing Laboratory at Purdue University

Home Based Vendor Guide

Food Processing in Indiana

Food Preservation Methods

Preparing Food in a Licensed Kitchen

HEA 1309 Home Based Vendor Rule Fact Sheet (PDF)