Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to become a member to sell at SoKY Marketplace?
Ideally we encourage everyone who sells at the marketplace to be a member. Membership has its advantages. They get priority choice of booth space and are eligible to be on the Producer Advisory committee. Plus we feature them on our website, in our newsletter and on other advertisements. However, we do have special events during the year like the “Made Market” where craft vendors are eligible to participate without becoming a member. Or the “Honey Day” event where local honey producers are welcome to participate.

What does it costs to become a member?
Membership is by calendar year and the cost is a $150.00 annually.

Are there booth costs?
Yes, booths rates are $8 for a single space on Tuesdays and $10 for a single space on Saturdays.

If I want more than one booth is that possible?
Yes, as long as space is available. Membership is still $150, but you would multiply the number of booths you want by the cost of one booth. (For example 2 x $8 for two booths on a Tuesday, or 3 x $10 for three booths on a Saturday.)

Can I pay a one-time season rate so that I don’t have to pay each day I sell?
Yes, season rates are available. Please contact Market Manager for details.

If I’m already a SoKY Marketplace vendor, can I sell someone else’s products at the market?
Approved members may sell products of another approved vendor. A separate application and vending fee must be submitted.

What is Kentucky Proud?
We recommend that all farmers become Kentucky Proud members. Kentucky Proud is the official state marketing program for agricultural products. There is no charge to join. As a Kentucky Proud member, you can consult with Kentucky Department of Agriculture marketing specialists; apply for grants and cost share funds; buy promotional items at cost; display the Kentucky Proud logo; and take advantage of many more member benefits.

Do I need a permit to sell whole fruits, vegetables, herbs or honey at the farmers’ market?
No. You do need to submit a list of all items for sale on you application or as an attachment to verify that everything you bring to sell at the market has been grown by you.

Can I sell canned foods or baked goods at the market?
Every processed item sold at the SoKY Marketplace must contain at least one ingredient grown by the vendor selling it. The Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Food Safety Branch is responsible for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of all food products marketed in Kentucky and has partnered with KDA’s farmers’ market program. Depending on the circumstances of the operation and the food items being marketed, it may be necessary for vendors to secure specialized training and/or a permit to operate. See “home-based processor” and “micro-processor” questions for more information or contact the Barren River Health Department (270) 781-8039 for more information.

What do I need to become a home-based processor?
This registration is for farmers who want to sell homemade jams, jelly, and baked items whose primary ingredient is grown on their farm. Home-based processing certificates are obtained from the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Food Safety Branch.

What do I need to be a home-based micro-processor?
This certification is for farmers who want to sell salsas, home-canned veggies and pickled products. It requires the completion of the training course provided by University of Kentucky Extension ($50). Additionally, all recipes must be submitted to the University of Kentucky for review and approval ($5 each). After finishing these two steps, an application should be submitted to the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Food Safety Branch with copies of the completed training course certificate and all recipes and labels.

Can I have both permits?

Yes. A permit is required for each type of food to be sold. Having a micro-processor certification does not cover registration for producing jams and jellies.

Can I use home-grown eggs and milk in my products?

No. Only U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected eggs and milk may be used.

Can I sell meat at the farmers’ market?

Yes. Kentucky-grown meat from a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected facility may be sold at farmers’ markets after obtaining a mobile retail food permit from the local health department.

Can I sell eggs at the farmers’ market?

Yes. You may sell up to 60 dozen per week without a permit, so long as you comply with all Kentucky Department of Agriculture rules as outlined in the KDA Farmers Market Manual

Can I sell dairy products at the farmers’ market?

Only properly labeled dairy products (butter, cheese, etc.) from inspected and permitted facilities may be sold with a retail food permit.

Can I cook and sell my products at the farmers’ market?

A farmers’ market temporary food service permit is needed to cook and sell a Kentucky-grown food at the market. This special permit (for Kentucky farmers only) is good for six consecutive months, and allows service twice per week.

Can I give away free samples?

The Department for Public Health, in cooperation with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, has developed a food safety training program for farmers who want to sample their product. Farmers who wish to slice, cut, cook, or otherwise prepare samples must complete this program and keep its certificate of completion with them during their sampling.

What is needed in order to sell dried fruits, vegetables, and herbs?
A home-based processor permit is needed.

Can I sell pet treats?
Individuals who wish to manufacture dog biscuits and other specialty pet treats are required to register with the Division of Regulatory Services as well as meet specific labeling requirements of the law. For more information regarding the manufacture of pet treats, contact the Feed Program, at (859) 257-2785. Additional information may be obtained by visiting their web page. Pet treats should be clearly labeled for pets.

Do I need any special permits to sell handmade soap, lip balm, lotion or other homemade body products?
Kentucky law exempts the manufacture of soaps from regulations provided that the label makes no medicinal claims. Lip balms, lotions and any other cosmetics may be produced only by permitted manufacturer. Cosmetic manufactures are permitted by the Kentucky Food Safety Branch and are subject to the same Rules and Regulations as any other food manufacturer. This includes having a commercial grade kitchen and a label review by the Food Safety Branch. Contact the Food Safety Branch for further information.

What do I need to get started?
It is recommended that before applying at SoKY Marketplace you visit us and get familiar with the market. Take a look at what is already being sold and who seems to be selling well. Being in direct retail is a very difficult job. What you grow has to be interesting, and it has to look good. Farmers also have to manage logistics and provide good customer service. You need to be good at all of it. You have to be able to sell your product. Don’t let someone walk by your stand without saying ‘hello.’

How much should I charge for my products?
Before you vend at the market, visit the market and take a look at what vendors are charging for their product. Many beginning farmers undervalue what they sell. It’s important that farmers charge fair prices. Vendors are friendly rather than competitive in pricing. Food that is certified organic, humanely raised, etc. tends to bring more than food without the certifications. For an idea of what farmers are charging at farmers markets around Central Kentucky see the University of Kentucky’s weekly farmers market price report.

Do I need a scale?
If the product is sold by weight, you must have a legal-for-trade scale that has been inspected by the Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture. Once a year, scales must be certified. Scales must be for legal trade and made for commercial use. A legal-for-trade scale will be marked with:
• A serial number.
• A model number.
• Class III designation on the identification plate or seal.

10 Selling Tips for the SoKY Marketplace

1. Your displays should be organized and colorful. Use a bright tablecloth or plants and/or flowers to catch the eye of a passing shoppers.
2. Raise your product off the ground if possible. It will make them more visible.
3. Maintain a clean and neat appearance. You must sell yourself too. You may want to wear clean, colorful aprons. Display your company or personal name on tablecloths, aprons, shirts, hats, etc.
4. Attitude is an important part of appearance. Have confidence in your product. Enjoy your customers and be cheerful and courteous. Smile and have fun.
5. Know your produce or product. Try to add value or make suggestions. Try creative ways to merchandise. If you sell produce, provide recipe suggestions.
6. Get to know your customers. Pay special attention to children and the elderly.
7. You should be at the market frequently enough for your customers to get to know you. Keep a steady presence. Allow several visits to the market to establish your reputation. Remember, it takes time to develop a market which will work for you.
8. Always bring something to sell. Only sell high-quality products. Remove any item or produce that is damaged. Keep displays full and fresh. Only sell produce in neat containers that will not splinter.
9. Post your prices and other important information legibly. Open up your booth to encourage “shopping”.
10. Arrive on time and stay until the end. Customers are frustrated if they come to purchase from you and you are late or have left early.