Farmers Markets and Temporary Events

Participating in Farmers Markets and Temporary Events is great way to enter into the food service industry without the heavy investment like a restaurant or mobile food vending operation. If you own a restaurant, mobile food vending operation, catering business, or food manufacturing business this can be another way to expand your operations and create another revenue stream.

Note: Please keep in mind that Farmers Markets and Temporary Events each have their own additional requirements in addition to the general requirements and regulations listed below. It is important to check with each Farmers Market or Event to ensure you meet their requirements for participation. Information here is mainly focused on prepared and processed/value added food businesses. Information for farmers can be found at Farm King County.

The guide below will help you navigate the through the different steps as you explore how to participate in Farmers Markets and Temporary Events. Our Helpful Links located below and our FAQ Page may also help answer some of your questions as you navigate through the different steps.

What is participating in Farmers Markets and Temporary Events?

  • Selling food from a booth, tent, or stall that you set up at a farmers market, fair, festival, fundraiser, sporting event, circus, carnival, convention or other type of public event
  • Selling food from a mobile food truck, trailer or cart at a farmers market, fair, festival, fundraiser, sporting event, circus, carnival, convention, or other type of public event

Steps for Participating in Farmers Markets and Temporary Events

Start by developing a business plan - visit our Business Planning page for helpful resources.

Do your market research: 

Be sure to check out the FREE tools and assistance at Seattle Public Utilities Green Business Program to help businesses conserve resources and prevent pollution while also reducing costs. Taking advantage of these resources can help you beome eligible for recognition and give your business added marketing through Washington's statewide program, EnviroStars

State of Washington Business License

City of Seattle Business License

  • If operating in Seattle, every business in Seattle is required to have a City of Seattle business license. Apply online, in person or by mail.
  • If operating outside of the City of Seattle, other City specific business license may be required. Check with each City individually for this requirement. 

Farmers Markets and Other Events

  • Please see the Helpful Links below for more information on the different events that take place in Seattle as well as farmers markets in the Puget Sound area.
  • Each farmers market and temporary event has it's own requirements for participation in addition to the requirements and regulations listed on this page and it is important to check with each one to determine if there is available space for your business and to get more information about their application guidelines and insurance requirements for participating.
  • If you plan on participating in a farmers market, please note that many of the farmers markets start in the April/May time frame and run through October and spaces are limited and fill up quickly, so it is important to begin planning and discussing with farmers markets early on in the process.  
  • If you plan on participating in any of the farmers markets in Seattle, please note that it is a requirement that your food business sources ingredients from Washington state farms. Farmers markets located outside of Seattle may have different requirements.

PHSKC Temporary Food Business Permit For Vendors Participating in Farmers Markets or Other Events

  • Temporary Event Permits also include partcipation in farmers markets and each farmers market is considered as one event. For example, if you are participating every Wednesday in a farmers market that runs from April to October, that is considered as one event under King County's Temporary Event Permit. 
  • If you are operating at a farmers market or temporary event in King County from your mobile food truck, trailer, or cart AND you have a King County Mobile Food Service Business permit, you do not need to apply for a King County Temporary Event permit. However, if you are operating outside of your mobile food operation and setting up a booth/tent/stall, you will need to apply for a temporary event permit.
  • If you have plan on operating at farmers markets and temporary events outside of King County, please check with the local county health department as you may need to apply for a temporary event permit in each local jurisdiction. 
  • If you have already been permitted by the WSDA and/or the USDA, you may still need a Temporary Food Service Business permit from King County if you are doing retail sales or providing taste testing. Call the King County Plan Examiners to check your specific situation.
  • Applications must be submitted at least two (2) weeks before the start of the event or farmers market.

WSDA Licenses for Wholesale Products and Low-Risk Foods

The Washington State Department of Agriculture licenses only apply to food businesses who are planning to wholesale their products (Food Processor License) or food businesses who plan to make low-risk foods in their home kitchens and sell directly to consumers (Cottage Food License) 

  •  A Food Processor License is required if you plan to wholesale your food products (selling to grocery stores, cafes, other vendors who plan to resell your product)
    • To see if you need a Food Processor license, please see visit the WSDA's Food Processor page. 
    • See the Food Processor Application to see the requirements for becoming a licensed food processor 
    • If you process food that contains more than 2% cooked or 3% raw USDA meat ingredients by weight, you will need to be approved by the USDA. 
  • A Cottage Food License is required if you plan to use your home kitchen to make and sell low-risk food directly to consumers.
    • See the list of allowable and non-allowable foods under this license.    
    • See the Cottage Food License Application to see the requirements for becoming a cottage food business operator. ·     
    • This license does not allow you to wholesale your products.
    • This is the only license that permits you to use your home kitchen to cook allowable foods on a commercial basis.
    • There is a $25,000 gross sales limit under this license.

Please note that you may still need a Temporary Food Service Business permit from King County if you are doing retail sales or providing taste testing. Call the King County Plan Examiners to check your specific situation.

USDA Approval For Wholesale Products Containing Meat

A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval is required for food businesses who are planning to wholesale their products AND their food product contains more than 2% cooked or 3% raw USDA meat ingredients by weight.

  • Please note that you may still need a Temporary Food Service Business Permit from King County if you are doing retail sales or providing taste testing. Call the King County Plan Examiners to check your specific situation.

Public Health - Seattle & King County

  • Once you have an approved King County Temporary Food Service Business Permit, King County health inspectors will come to inspect your operation during the time of the farmers market or event.    

Washington State Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Agriculture

  • If you need additional permitting or approval from the WSDA and USDA, you would need to be inspected before being able to participate in a farmers market or temporary event. Inspection times vary depending on the type of permit or license you are getting. Please check with those agencies for their inspection process and timeline. 

If you plan on hiring employees, learn more about how you need to register, train and keep your employees safe by visiting our Final Prep page.

Congratulations! You're ready to open! Visit our You're in Business page to keep up to date with your ongoing business obligations.