Business Licenses for Urban Growers

Urban growing is the practice of growing produce in the city. Urban growers raising and selling produce in Chicago may be required to obtain one or more City business licenses depending on their business activities.

Urban growing may take place on Urban Farms, which are commercial operations where produce is grown, washed, packed and stored, or in Community Gardens, which are neighborhood-based operations providing space for members of the community to grow plants.

To sell produce on-site to communities across Chicago, urban growers may obtain a Mobile Food License to operate a Produce Stand on their Urban Farm or in their Community Garden. Produce Stand requirements include the following:

  • Only produce may be sold from a Produce Stand. Produce is defined as whole and uncooked plant-based items such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, edible grains, nuts, spices, herbs and cut flowers.
  • Community Gardens may only sell produce grown on-site.
  • Produce sold from a Produce Stand on an Urban Farm or in a Community Garden must be grown in raised beds or engineered barriers separating the growing media from the naturally formed or deposited soil.
  • The Produce Stand may be no bigger than 150 square feet in area, nor greater than 15 feet in height above the ground. It must be at least 15 feet from the front property line if in a Residential district, and always at least 5 feet from any side property line. A site plan showing the dimensions and location of your proposed Produce Stand will be required as part of the license application.
  • No Urban Farm or Community Garden may have a Produce Stand if there is also a dwelling unit on the property.
  • No storage or processing of produce or other food products may occur in association with any license for a Produce Stand.

Some urban growers may require a Retail Food Establishment license depending on the activities being conducted on site. A Retail Food Establishment license is needed for a variety of activities, including:

  •  The storage or preparation of produce or food products
  • The growing of produce within a fixed building

For information on license application requirements, see the Applying for a Business License page.

License applications may be made in person at the Small Business Center located at 121 N LaSalle St, Room 800. For more information on what to expect during your visit, see the visit us page

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