The Legalities of Making Money from Your Maine Homestead

Essential tips and legal requirements for Maine homesteaders and hobby farmers looking to sell eggs, produce, and homemade goods.

A man standing in his garden holding a wooden crate of produce.

As a state with a long tradition of farming and a thriving local food movement, Maine is a great place for homesteaders and hobby farmers to sell their produce. You can make some extra cash and get to know your neighbors better by selling your homemade crafts, eggs, and garden produce. 

But it is not easy to figure out all the rules and regulations that apply to selling things that are made or grown at home. This post is designed to make things easier for you, with a focus on three main places to sell your goods: local stores, farmer’s markets, and your own property.

Maine Food Sovereignty

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.”


Aiming to facilitate the buying and selling of locally produced foods, the local government in towns that have adopted food sovereignty has taken it upon itself to guarantee the safety of all foods sold within its borders. While processing meat or poultry does not fall under food sovereignty, homemade goods such as jams, jellies, pickles, and baked goods do. This protection applies to private sales only. Find out if you are in a Food Sovereignty Municipality.

Selling from a Farmstand on Your Property

Build a solid foundation before you go into the nitty-gritty of rules and regulations for selling your farmstand items. Your farmstand’s attractiveness and profitability can be greatly improved if you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of roadside stands, including presentation and pricing.

A great place to start is Tips for Starting Your Own Roadside Farm Stand. It has great advice on how to make a farmstand that people want to visit, how to run it efficiently, and how to turn your homestead into a profitable business. You can make your farmstand a success for your homesteading business and your customers by listening to their feedback and adapting your strategy to match the specifics of your farm and products.

A rustic wooden sign with "organic farmstand" written on it and apples perched on top.

Eggs and Produce

Produce and eggs grown on your own property can be sold in Maine without a license as long as you follow the rules. Make sure the eggs are clean and store them at a temperature lower than 45°F. Putting a date on the egg cartons will let buyers know that they are getting eggs that are fresh. Although it is not required, grading your eggs can increase their value and build trust with your customers.

You do not need a license to sell farm-fresh produce from your property in Maine, but if you want to build a good reputation and keep your customers happy, you should follow standards for food presentation and safety. Always go for the freshest and highest quality garden produce to sell.

Homemade Items

Selling homemade goods, such as jams, jellies, baked goods, and crafts, often falls under Maine’s home food processing regulations. In order to sell most canned goods and prepared foods, you must get a Home Food Processor License and make sure your kitchen passes a home inspection. In addition, you must provide your contact information, a list of ingredients, and any information regarding allergies on the label.

Although there are fewer rules governing crafts and non-food items, it is still important to make sure they are made in a safe and ethical way to encourage trust and return customers.

Selling at Farmer’s Markets

The farmer’s markets in Maine are thriving community centers where individuals can buy and sell goods directly from producers. In order to take part, you will most likely have to pay dues to the market’s governing body and agree to follow their rules in addition to the laws of your state.

“The Maine Food Sovereignty Act does not relate to farmers’ markets.”

Senator Craig Hickman

Regulations and Tips

  • Egg License: Selling eggs at farmer’s markets only requires an Egg Handler’s License if you have more than 3,000 laying hens.
  • Cottage Foods: For homemade foods, the same home food processing rules apply, but some farmer’s markets may have additional requirements for labeling and packaging to maintain a cohesive look and feel.
  • Liability Insurance: Many farmer’s markets require vendors to carry liability insurance, protecting both you and the consumers.
A woman purchasing tomatoes at a farmer's market.

Selling to Local Stores

If you’re considering selling your products in local stores, you’ll enter a partnership where your adherence to regulations and quality standards becomes even more critical. You need to be licensed for Home Food Manufacturing before you can sell to restaurants or retail stores.

Working with Retailers

  • Make sure you can meet demand without lowering quality, because retailers will expect a steady supply of your product.
  • Properly labeling products and using professional, eye-catching packaging is essential for both shelf appeal and regulatory compliance.

Building Relationships

Building strong relationships with store owners and managers is often crucial for success in local stores. Understand their needs and customer base, and be open to feedback on your product’s performance.

General Tips for Success

  • Know Your Regulations: Always stay updated on Maine’s agricultural and food processing regulations to ensure compliance.
  • Quality First: Whether it’s eggs, vegetables, jams, or crafts, quality should be your top priority. Happy customers are repeat customers.
  • Community Engagement: Engage with your community both in person and online. Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with customers and promoting your offerings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most farm products sold directly to consumers in Maine for their own use, like fresh fruits and vegetables, are not subject to sales tax. But non-food items and products with added value, like jams, baked goods, or canned goods, may be taxed. To get clear on what you need to collect sales tax on, you should talk to the Maine Revenue Services or a tax qualified person.

More rules apply to selling meat and dairy products than to selling vegetables or baked goods. As you process, package, and sell these items, you will have to follow state and federal laws. For meat, it usually needs to be processed at a place that is inspected by the USDA. To make dairy products, businesses need to get certain licenses and often have to meet health standards. To get more information, you can call the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

 There are many resources in Maine for new farmers, such as workshops, online materials, and mentorship programs run by groups like the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service. These resources can help you with everything from planning crops and marketing them to understanding the rules and applying for grants or loans that are meant to help agricultural businesses.

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Homesteaders and hobby farmers in Maine can easily navigate the exciting world of selling their products by following these guidelines and regulations. Sharing your hard work with your community can be a fulfilling experience, whether it is through a charming farmstand, the lively atmosphere of a farmer’s market, or the shelves of a local store.

Do you have a farmstand? What do you sell in it?

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