Zoning may prohibit some value-added activities on your property even where a farm operation is allowed. Processing agricultural products can be considered commercial, and therefore a non-agricultural use of the property. Likewise, if you are contemplating inviting the public to your farm for any agritourism ventures, you will be well-advised to consult your zoning before committing to these farming-adjacent ventures.
Oftentimes agritourism ventures will require an event permit, conditional use permit, or even a variance before they are allowed. Securing event or conditional use permits is generally fairly easy, so long as the farmer allows enough time for the process.
It is important to know how to find the zoning ordinances that impact you and your operation, be familiar with the vocabulary of zoning, and what to do if your zoning doesn’t allow a specific use that you want to pursue. This is what this section will cover!
Bottom-line, when it comes to zoning, knowledge is power, and if you don’t like what you know, you might have the power to change it. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that zoning codes and regulations are fair, transparent, and supportive of diverse farming activities and communities. Through collaborative efforts, we can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable agricultural system where all farmers, regardless of their background, can thrive and contribute to their communities.
If you are working on a concrete issue with a regulator and are planning a strategy to address it, the Farmers’ Guide to Working with Regulators” (available on our website to members) will be helpful.
Action Step for the Botanical Producer
There may be zoning rules that impact a botanical business once value-added processing is added to a farming operation. The Action Step for this chapter is to investigate zoning laws in my municipality to determine if value-added processing will be allowed where I want to be processing.