Everything I Want to Do is Illegal



I have several neighbors who produce high-quality food or crafts that complement our own meat and poultry. Dried flower arrangements from one artisan, pickles from another, wine from another, and first-class vegetables from another. These are just for starters.

Our community is blessed with all sorts of creative artisans who offer products that we would love to stock in our on-farm retail venue. Doesn’t it make sense to encourage these customers driving out from the city to be able to go to one farm to do their rural browsing/ purchasing rather than drive all over the countryside? Furthermore, many of these artisans have neither the desire nor time to deal with patrons one-on-one. A collaborative venue is the most win-win, reasonable idea imaginable — except to government agents.

As soon as our farm offers a single item just one that is not produced here, we have become a Wal-Mart. Period. That means a business license, which is basically another layer of taxes on our gross sales. The business license requires a commercial entrance, which on our country road is almost impossible to acquire due to sight-distance requirements and width regulations. Of course, zoning prohibits businesses in our agricultural zones. Remember, people are supposed to be kept away from agricultural areas€” people bring diseases.

Even if we could comply with all of the above requirements, a retail outlet carries with it a host of additional regulations. We must provide designated handicapped parking, government-approved toilet facilities (our four household bathrooms in the two homes located 50 feet away from the retail building do not count) — and it can’t be a composting toilet. We must offer x-number of parking spaces. Folks, it just goes on and on, ad nauseum, and all for simply trying to help a neighbor sell her potatoes or extra pumpkins at Thanksgiving. I thought this was the home of the free. In most countries of the world, anyone can sell any of this stuff anywhere, and the hungering hordes are glad to get it, but in the great U.S. of A we’re too sophisticated to allow such bioregional commerce.