Resources for Food and Farming Enterprises

Legal Eats - A Legal Guide for Food Justice Enterprises (updated March, 2016)

This is a 77 page guide that covers many legal topics related to starting a small to medium scale food enterprise including restaurants, farms, grocery stores, and more! This guide primarily covers California law. It does not cover inter-state food sales. Click here to download the pdf onto your computer.

Food and Agricultural Regulations for Urban, Suburban, and Small Scale Agriculture:

General Guide to Selling/Donating Produce in California (including new laws as of 2016): Click here for a 3-page pdf.

Guide to Selling Produce in San Jose (for farmers and retailers): Click here for info and free pdf download.

Legal Bite on Organic Certification is a two page overview of the rules that apply to Certified Organic California farmers.

Legal Bite on Accessible Gardens is an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to gardens, with tips on making gardens more accessible.

Legal Bite on Selling Eggs in California is an overview for small-scale producers and sellers of eggs in California. Requirements covered in this resource apply to egg producers with 3,000 laying hens or fewer and those selling eggs within the state of California only.

FAQ on the Neighborhood Food Act provides an overview of the law's provisions, who the law applies to, and how you can take advantage of the new law to increase urban food production where you live. You might also want to check out this video recording of our Food and Farm Attorney, Neil Thapar, speaking about the law (see video at 21:00) at the 2014 Urban Agriculture Law Conference at University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law.

Homemade Food Enterprises:

See our California Homemade Food Act page for lots of detailed information on the law that we helped shepherd through the legislature in 2012.

Be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions page if you have a specific question that is not answered in our general summary of the law.

Check out our Food News Blog for updates on the latest legislative developments around homemade food sales.

Finance for Food and Agriculture Enterprises:

See our Grassroots Finance Guide for California Farmers which details the laws food and farm enterprises must navigate when raising "community capital" (ie raising investment money from ordinary people, not banks or other financial institutions). Released in September, 2017

See also generally our Grassroots Finance Program page for more finance ideas and other resources.

Employment Law:

We've created a series of resources on employment laws for small-scale food and farm enterprises. Click here to learn more.

Employment Law Projects: From 2011-2013, our staff and volunteers worked with Hmong farmers in and around Fresno, CA and Chinese farmers in Morgan Hill, CA to address common employment law barriers encountered when the farmers engage in cooperative farming practices and involve family and friends in the labor of their farms. These employment law issues are key legal barriers in the creation of sustainable localized economies, and they impact communities far beyond Fresno and Morgan Hill. For more information on this project, see our webpage on Employment Law Projects.

General Information for Small Businesses:

See our This contains articles about employment, land use, corporate, and finance laws. Note that this is a work-in-progress and more content is continually added.

Workshops:  With our partners at the Community Economic Justice Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center and students at Berkeley Law School we put on workshops about legal topics related to food enterprises and worker cooperatives. Check out our events page for information about upcoming workshops. Click here to see all 14 videos from a previous Legal Eats workshop in West Oakland.

Legal Advice: The Sustainable Economies Law Center offers donation-based legal advice sessions for small-scale food enterprises and other community-based enterprises through our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe. Check out the schedule, which rotates around various East Bay Area locations, and then either schedule an appointment or just show up. Some Legal Cafes are also accompanied by facilitated discussions about various legal topics. Check the schedule for more information. As a small nonprofit organization, unfortunately, we do not have the resources at this time to provide legal advice over the phone or through email to food entrepreneurs who contact us outside the Legal Cafe. Please check out the resources listed above for your legal information needs, and if you still have questions or are unsure about anything, come to our Legal Cafe or contact an attorney who is familiar with the law in your area.

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