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We want to help make repurposing vacant lots and increasing local, healthy food access as simple as possible, so we have gathered many frequently asked questions--with answers!


 Is it ok to have a farmstand on my block?

Yes, however, a permit is required of every person who sells food in the City of Milwaukee from a pushed, pedaled, pulled or motorized vehicle of from a carried container on the public way.

  • Food Peddler license application can be found here.
  • License fees are dependent upon the type of business you will conduct and the number of vehicles and must be submitted prior to the issuance of the permit.
  • Type of business fees range from $4.50-$158.00
  • Number of vehicles fees range from $86 per unit to $137 per unit
  • Additional fee of $41 for selling during the hours of 9:00p.m.-3:00a.m. on Friday and Saturday
  • License period runs from July 1 - June 30.
  • Upon the issuance of the license, each food peddler will be issued a numbered sticker specific to their cart or container, which must be prominently displayed to two sides of the vehicle or container.
  • Application may be submitted electronically to, in person at the City Clerk License Division (200 E. Wells. St., Room 105), or via mail.
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 Where are the farmers markets and how do I get space?
  • Visit for a complete listing of farmers markets in Southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Per the Milwaukee Health Department, a Temporary Event Food Dealer License is required to sell food such as raw fruits and vegetables, eggs, poultry, breads, and beverages at any of the farmers' markets in the City of Milwaukee. A license is required for each individual temporary food operation, site location or stand where food is prepared, processed, served or sold.
  • Temporary event food dealer license application can be found here
  • The license fee is based upon the category of food that the majority of your sales are from; for a farmer's market license, the fee is $89.
  • License period runs from July 1 through June 30.
  • Prior to the event, contact the Health Department at (414) 286-3674 for food handling and hand washing requirements. Failure to do so could result in your operation being closed for not following proper guidelines.
  • File early; applications filed within 10 business days of the event will be subject to a $75 late filing fee.
  • Application may be submitted electronically to, in person at the City Clerk License Division (200 E. Wells St. Room 105), or via mail.
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 Am I allowed to sell the foods I can?
  • If you are planning on selling $5,000 or less per year of canned foods, please refer to the Pickle Bill:
  • In 2009 the Wisconsin Act 101, The Pickle Bill, was passed allowing individuals to sell some home canned foods without a license.
  • Copy of the Law can be found here
  • What IS allowable under the Wisconsin Act 101 all of the following must apply:
  1. The food products are pickles or other processed vegetables or fruits with an equilibrium ph value of 4.6 or lower (meaning they are high in acid). Some examples of allowable canned goods are: pickled fruits and vegetables (not refrigerator pickles), salsas and chutneys, sauerkraut and kimchi, jams and jellies, applesauce.
  2. The person must sell the products at a community or social event, or farmers market in Wisconsin.
  3. Total maximum allowable sales is $5,000 per year from the sale of the food products.
  4. There must be a sign at the place of sale stating "These canned goods are homemade and not subject to inspection."
  5. Each food container that is sold must be labeled with the name and address of the person who prepared it, with the date the product was canned, a statement on the can saying "This product was made in a private home not subject to state licensing or inspections," and a list of ingredients in descending order or prominence (with the common name of the ingredient).
  • If you are not sure if your product can be sold without a license, you may contact UW-Extension at (608) 263-7383 or the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at (608) 224-4682.

What IS NOT allowable under the Wisconsin Act 101

  • You cannot sell low acid home canned foods like:
  1. Fish and meat
  2. Sauces, dressings or condiments (unless they are clearly fruit or vegetable products)
  • You cannot sell foods containing meat, eggs, or dairy such as:
  1. Pickled eggs, lemon curd, or pesto
  • You cannot sell baked goods, dried foods, flavored vinegars, beverages, or foods that must be kept refrigerated.
  • You cannot sell products made outside your family's kitchen.
  • For more information regarding The Pickle Bill click here.

The following conditions apply if you are planning on selling more than $5,000 per year in sales from canned goods:

Food Processing License

  • For selling canned goods annually from $5,000 to $25,000 in sales. $95 license fee.
  • For more information regarding the license click here

Food Processing Plant License (Wholesale)

  • License required to process and/or package food for wholesale to other businesses.
  • For more information regarding the license and how to apply click here.

Temporary Event Food Dealer License

  • For selling canned good at a Farmers Market in the City of Milwaukee
  • Fee is $83, plus $6 state fee.
  • Find the application for this license clicking here.

Additional information about production of canned foods, safety, and canning recipes:

  • For more information regarding small scale production of canned foods, (and upcoming classes), food safety, and selecting and serving safe produce click here.
  • For information regarding canning tips and tested recipes click here.

For Canning classes in the Milwaukee Area:

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 Is raising chickens allowable in the City of Milwaukee?

Yes! As of July 28, 2011, residents are allowed to raise chickens under the following conditions:

  • A permit is required and allows residents can keep up to 4 chickens.
  • Roosters are not allowed.
  • No person shall slaughter any chickens.

How to apply for a permit to keep chickens in Milwaukee:

  • Complete an approved site plan (DNS-362) to the satisfaction of the department. Forms are also available from DNS at 4001 S. 6th Street, 2nd Floor
  •  Here is a Sample Coop Site Plan (DNS - 362)
  • Complete a Neighbor Approval Statement Form (DNS-363) from every neighbor required. Blank neighbor approval forms are also available from DNS, or can be found at this link
  • Tip - DNS strongly recommends that neighboring property owners be provided with a copy of this Chicken Brochure.
  • Present both forms (DNS-362 & DNS-363) and a check or money order in the amount of $35.49, payable to “City of Milwaukee” (one time fee) to the clerk at the DNS (Department of Neighborhood Services at 4001 S. 6th Street, 2nd Floor. Applicants may apply for permits Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Approval by the department is contingent on a review for completeness and compliance with the ordinance. The approval may be made over the counter (time permitting) and the permit given to the applicant or the permit needs more time to review, may be mailed to the applicant, if approved.
  • For additional questions or information about the permitting process, please contact Marcie Otto at 414-286-3280 or please refer to this link provided by the City of Milwaukee.

Will an inspection be required before receiving a permit?

  • No. An inspection will not be conducted by the DNS as part of the permitting process. DNS will inspect and determine compliance only on a complaint basis, or if it believes that a violation may be occurring.

General Tips to Raising Chickens:


  • Coops shall be constructed in a workmanlike manner and be moisture resistant, and either raised off the ground or placed on a hard surface such as concrete, patio or gravel.
  • Chicken coops and yards shall be constructed so they will not have standing water.
  • Please ensure that chicken coops are cleaned of hen droppings, uneaten feed, feathers, and other waste daily to ensure a health, odor or other nuisance does not exist.
  • Chicken coops and yards together shall be large enough to provide at least 16 sq feet per chicken.
  • Coops cannot be taller than 10 feet or exceed 50 sq feet.
  • Enclosures shall not be closer than 25 feet to any residential structure, and shall not be located in the front of a dwelling.


  • In the winter months, supplemental lighting will be required in order to keep hens laying eggs. 14-16 hours of light is optimal for egg production.
  • Lighting is also important for young chicks, and 24 hours of light is needed for the first 48 hours.


  • Chickens love Japanese beetle, and will eat other insect critters, but chickens will still need a diet of feed.
  • A 40-pound bag of generic feed from a store like Farm & Fleet will cost $7-$8 and should last four chickens about a month and half.
  • Other options are organic feed for $15-$20 or vegetarian options for $10-$12.
  • How much time will it take?
  • Only 10-15 minutes per day to water and feed them and to remove the eggs, plus two hours about five times per year to thoroughly shovel out the coop.

How many eggs will they lay?

It depends on the hen’s breed, age, time of year and mood.

  • Usually for nine months a year, healthy hens will lay about one egg per day.
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 What is GAP Certification?

GAP stands for Good Agricultural Practices which are a set of guidelines to standardize and monitor processes from growing, harvesting, handling and processing food.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) there are audits that can be done to oversee these processes, however these audits are not required for urban farmers selling to farmers markets.  One specific area of interest to farmers would be the Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables as published by the USDA.  This Guide focuses on 8 basic principles;


        Principle 1. Prevention of microbial contamination of fresh produce is favored over reliance on

corrective actions once contamination has occurred.

        Principle 2. To minimize microbial food safety hazards in fresh produce, growers, packers, or

shippers should use good agricultural and management practices in those areas over which they

have control.

        Principle 3. Fresh produce can become microbiologically contaminated at any point along the

farm-to-table food chain. The major source of microbial contamination with fresh produce is

associated with human or animal feces.

        Principle 4. Whenever water comes in contact with produce, its source and quality dictates the

potential for contamination. Minimize the potential of microbial contamination from water used

with fresh fruits and vegetables.

        Principle 5. Practices using animal manure or municipal biosolid wastes should be managed

closely to minimize the potential for microbial contamination of fresh produce.

        Principle 6. Worker hygiene and sanitation practices during production, harvesting, sorting,

packing, and transport play a critical role in minimizing the potential for microbial contamination

of fresh produce.

        Principle 7. Follow all applicable local, state, and Federal laws and regulations, or corresponding

or similar laws, regulations, or standards for operators outside the U.S., for agricultural practices.

        Principle 8. Accountability at all levels of the agricultural environment (farm, packing facility,

distribution center, and transport operation) is important to a successful food safety program.

There must be qualified personnel and effective monitoring to ensure that all elements of the

program function correctly and to help track produce back through the distribution channels to the producer.

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 How do I start a raised bed garden on a City-owned vacant lot?

  • Contact City of Milwaukee Department of City Development, Yves LaPierre  (414) 286-5762  for vacant lot information and to apply for a 3 year vacant lot lease.
  • Apply for a seasonal garden plot permit by contacting Groundwork Milwaukee (414) 763-9947 .

·         Select a location on the lot for your garden based on sun exposure and grade.

·         Prepare your garden spot by constructing a raised garden box that will hold at least 12 inches of improved soil.  You will have to bring in garden topsoil.

·         Lay a barrier cloth such as landscape fabric under the raised bed structure prior to putting in the soil.

·         Generally, water will not be available on a vacant lot.  You can transport your own water, or contact the city for information on connecting water to the vacant lot, or you can contact Groundwork Milwaukee (414)763-9947 to apply for a fire hydrant permit. 

·         There are many great resources to help plan your garden, and provide answers to questions that may arise.  Here are a few;

o   UW Extension Publications

o   Victory Garden Initiative 

o   Groundwork Milwaukee

o   Alice’s Garden

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 What type of urban ag related things do I need a permit/license for?


Animal Licenses

Select a link or call a telephone number below for more information about Animal Licenses:

Licenses are issued for:

Need a license?




(414) 286-3280



(414) 286-3280

Building and Construction Permits

Select a link or call a telephone number below for more information about Building and Construction Permits:   


Need a permit?

Need a permit?

Fence -- new


View/Print the Application
Or (414) 286-8210

Fence -- replace


View/Print the Application
Or (414) 286-8210

Hydrant use


(414) 286-8208



(414) 286-8210




Public way -- use of


(414) 286-8208



(414) 286-8210

Sidewalk café


(414) 286-8208



(414) 286-8210

Street -- use of


(414) 286-8208

Tent with 2, 3 or 4 sides


(414) 286-8210

Tent with 3 or 4 open sides



Tent smaller than 600 s.f.



Water service - tap


(414) 286-8208

Food Establishment Licenses

Select a link or call a telephone number below for more information about Food Establishment Licenses:  

Licenses are issued for:

Need a license?


Food Dealer

A license is required of every person, partnership, association or corporation that manufactures, offers for sale, stores, distributes or sells food in the City of Milwaukee.


(414) 286-2238

Food Distributor 


(414) 286-2238

Food Peddler

A permit is required of every person who sells food in the City of Milwaukee from a pushed, pedaled, pulled or motorized vehicle or from a carried container.


(414) 286-2238

Temporary Events


(414) 286-2238


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 Where can I get gardening advice?
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 What are my options for getting water to my vacant lot?

Low Cost Options:

  • Obtaining a Hydrant Permit through Groundwork Milwaukee to utilize the fire hydrant closest to your vacant lot.
  • Rainwater harvesting techniques, contact ReFlo for more information.
  • Sometimes making an arrangement with the neighbor adjacent to your vacant lot to utilize their water hose is feasible.

Higher Cost Option:

  • Have a water tap installed on the vacant lot, which can cost up to $10,000+
  • Contact City of Milwaukee at (414) 286-8211 for more information.
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Contact Us

Tim McCollow, HOME GR/OWN Program Manager
414) 286-3748

 Connect With Us


Learn More

 Urban Ag Formal Legislative Amendment

Presentation: Proposed Zoning Updates: April 2014 (Updates found near end of presentation)

 Video created in collaboration with Wisconsin Foodie and Harvest Motion Design.