Requirements for Community Shared Agriculture / Pick Your Own Marketing Channel

What are the relevant laws that I should be aware of?

  1. The following federal legislation:
    • Food and Drugs Act
  1. The following provincial legislation:
    • Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001
      • Ontario Regulation 119/11 - Produce, Honey and Maple Products

      Note that Ontario does regulate fresh produce under O. Reg. 119/11 however; this regulation does not apply to produce that is grown or harvested by or for a person for the person's own use or for the use of the person's household.

    • Health Protection and Promotion Act
      • Regulation 562 - Food Premises
  2. Local municipal by-laws

What are the key requirements that I need to know about?

The following requirements apply to fresh produce that is grown and marketed in Ontario at a "Pick Your Own" or community supported (shared) agriculture location. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of and comply with all legal requirements (federal, provincial or municipal) that apply to your situation.

Federal

  • Regulatory Oversight - Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Food and Drugs Act and the Food and Drug Regulations and the only government organization that can issue a food recall.

    • Food and Drugs Act
      All food sold in Canada must meet the requirements in the Food and Drugs Act regardless of where the food is produced or sold. The Act covers food, drugs, cosmetics and therapeutic devices. Section 4 of the Act addresses food safety.

More information on federal legislation and other resources can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

Provincial - Ontario

Regulatory Oversight - Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of

    • Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001
      • Ontario Regulation 119/11 Produce, Honey and Maple Products
    • Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001
      The purposes of the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 are to provide for:
      • the quality and safety of food, agricultural or aquatic commodities and agricultural inputs;
      • the management of food safety risks; and
      • the control and regulation of activities determined by the Act and its regulations such as the growing fresh fruits and vegetables.

      Ontario Regulation 119/11 Produce, Honey and Maple Products
      O. Reg. 119/11 covers food safety matters, grading, packaging, labelling, transporting, advertising and sale for produce whether the produce is produced in Ontario or produced outside Ontario and imported into Ontario.

      Note that requirements under O. Reg. 119/11 do not apply to any produce that is grown or harvested by or for a person for the person's own use or the use of the person's household which includes "Pick Your Own" and "Community Supported Agriculture".

Regulatory Oversight - Public Health Units
A Public Health Unit is an official health agency established by a group of municipalities to provide a community health program, carried out by full-time, specially qualified staff. Health units administer health promotion and disease prevention programs to inform the public about healthy life-styles, communicable disease control, immunization, food premises inspection, healthy growth and development, health education for all age groups and selected screening services.

Each health unit is governed by a board of health, which is an autonomous corporation under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and is administered by the medical officer of health who reports to the local board of health.

  • Health Protection and Promotion Act
    One of the purposes of the Health Protection and Promotion Act is to promote and protect the health of the people of Ontario. Section 17 of the Act prohibits any person from selling any food that is unfit for human consumption by reason of disease, adulteration, impurity or other cause.
    • Regulation 562 - Food Premises
      Regulation 562 sets out requirements for the operation of a food service premise and the safe handling of food. “Food premise” is defined broadly in the Act to mean a premises where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold, or offered for sale, but does not include a private residence.

    • Regulation 562 contains specific requirements for building maintenance, equipment, food handling, maintenance and sanitation in relation to food premises. Farms selling only their own farm products in the form of honey, maple syrup, or unprocessed fruits, vegetables and grains may be exempt from certain requirements under this regulation (Section 3(1) paragraph 4).

More specific information can be obtained by contacting your local health unit or Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Municipal

Municipal governments are responsible for local services and each municipality has by-laws specific to the services offered within its area. Check with your municipality for specifics on by-laws that may affect the marketing of fresh produce in your area.

Do I need a permit or licence to market my fresh produce?

Produce grown in Ontario may be marketed through a provincial marketing board or an association e.g. Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers or Ontario Tender Fruit Producers' Marketing Board. Marketing boards and associations represent producers in the coordination of marketing and selling commodities. Some marketing boards or associations may require a licence or fees to cover the cost of activities such as research and promotion. More information can be obtained through the marketing board or association for the applicable commodity.

A licence from the OMAFRA is not required for marketing fresh produce through "pick your own" or community supported (shared) agriculture. However, some municipalities may have local by-laws requiring business permits. More information can be obtained from your municipality.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Suzete Moniz, Regulatory and Standards Coordinator/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 7 June 2013
Last Reviewed: 15 Mars 2016