A farmstand is a point-of-sale right at the garden or farm to sell fresh food exactly where it is grown. Food grown in Providence’s urban farms and community gardens can provide important income to Providence growers and help other Providence residents access healthy food for their families.
- Farmstands are allowed almost everywhere in Providence, except where prohibited for public health or safety reasons or the protection of wildlife habitat. Contact the Providence Planning Department for details.
- Only one farmstand is allowed at each farm or garden. Each farmstand may only have one cash register, cash box, credit card machine or other point-of-sale.
- The farmstand must be operated by the producer or a cooperative of producers that are farming on the site where the farmstand is located.
- Only items grown on-site or at other sites operated by the producer or producers’ cooperative that operates the site may be sold at the farmstand.
- Farmstands (tent, table, etc.) must be temporary and removed from the site or stored inside during the time of year that the farmstand is not open.
What you need to know
Licensing and Permitting
As a small business, your farmstand needs some of the same licenses and permits as other businesses. Some of these are issued by the City of Providence and others by the State of Rhode Island. Here’s how to get the licenses and permits you need:
- Get a Permit to Make Sales at Retail:
Call the RI Department of Revenue, Division of Taxation at (401)574-8970 to request a Business Application and Registration (BAR) form or fill out the form online. If you sell items besides uncut and unprocessed fruits and vegetables, you may be required to charge state sales tax and file annual tax returns and need to apply for a Sales and Use Tax Permit. These permits need to be renewed every year. The Division of Taxation can help growers understand requirements and fill out required paperwork.
- If your farmstand will use a scale to weigh and sell produce, have your scale inspected every year by the RI Department of Labor and Training’s Weights and Measures Department:
Joseph Degnan () (401) 462-8165.
- Find out about food safety requirements or health licenses you might need:
Call the RI Department of Health Center for Food Protection at (401)222-2749. Generally, farmstand operators selling only uncut and unprocessed fruits and vegetables will not need health licenses.
- Apply for a Mobile Vendor License – City of Providence Board of Licenses.
Bring your permit to make sales at retail (from the RI Department of Revenue, above) and a letter of permission from the owner of the land where you will open the farmstand. Identify yourself as a farmer so you will only be required to pay a $10 fee instead of $67. You may list up to five people who will be working at the farmstand on your application for a Mobile Vendor License.
- Rules and requirements may change. Please contact the appropriate office or individuals for the most recent information.
Summary of Costs
This is an estimate of the fees related to sales of uncut, unprocessed fruits and vegetables at on-site farmstands in Providence. Any cut or processed produce prepared foods, dairy or meats may require additional permits or licenses.
- Business Application and Registration (new businesses): Vendors selling only uncut and unprocessed fruits and vegetables will pay a $10 one-time fee.
- State of RI Permit to Make Sales at Retail: $10/year
- City of Providence Mobile Vendor License: $10/year for farmers (fee for other vendors is $67)
Accepting Federal Nutrition Assistance as Payment
Federal nutrition assistance programs provide an important part of many Providence families’ food budgets, and accepting these benefits can help you increase sales and expand your customer base.
Some forms of Federal Nutrition Assistance are Senior Nutrition checks, WIC checks and SNAP EBT cards. See information in Contacts for who to talk to about accepting each type of Federal Nutrition Assistance for your products.
RI Division of Taxation
Online Business Application and
Registration (BAR) and other forms:
To make changes to existing accounts or previously submitted BAR:
Sales tax questions: (401) 574-8829
Download the Farmstand Guide