The purpose of the Columbus Farmers Market is threefold: 1) to provide consumers a venue for them to purchase locally grown and produced foods, plants, art, and handcrafted items, 2) to provide local farmers/growers/artisans an opportunity to sell directly to the local public, 3) to provide a place for non-profit groups to educate and fundraise, and 4) to accomplish this in a healthy and family-friendly manner.
The mission of the Columbus Farmers Market is to provide an annual seasonal event designed to bring our farm and city communities together by providing a venue that is more than just a market intended for commerce but a market that is fun, family-friendly, entertaining, healthy, and adds considerably to the quality of life of the citizens of Columbus and the surrounding area.
Operation of Market
Columbus Farmers Market is organized under the direction of the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department. The Market Coordinator may be contacted by email or by phone at (812) 371-1866.
Regular mail may be sent to
Columbus Farmers Market
P.O. Box 858
Columbus, IN 47202-0858
Frequently Asked Questions
It is the general policy of the Columbus Farmers Market to remain open during inclement weather unless the Market Coordinator determines the situation poses a safety threat to vendors or customers. The Market Coordinator, in conjunction with Columbus Parks and Recreation, will decide if the market is to be cancelled because of weather.
High Winds– All vendors are required to weight down their canopies with adequate weight to keep canopies on the ground. The Market Coordinator may require canopies to be taken down that are at risk of taking flight due to high winds or inadequate weights.
Lightning Policy-The Market will not continue to operate when there is evidence of lightning in the area. The Market Coordinator will rely on various forms of confirmation regarding lightning including visual confirmation or by reliance on mobile weather apps. Vendors with electrical equipment should unplug all equipment at the first sign of lightning and step away from the appliances. Customers and vendors should try to get to a safe place by entering a nearby building or in personal vehicles.
The Columbus Farmers Market is a Pet Friendly market and we welcome well-behaved pets and owners. However, no pets are allowed within vendor booths except for service dogs.
The following conditions apply to all animals and owners:
- Pets are to be kept on a short leash.
- Pets are to be kept under control and by the owner’s side at all times
- Pets must be friendly with other pets and people.
- Owners must be considerate of those who do not wish to be in contact with pets or other animals.
- Owners must clean up after pets and provide own waste bags.
- Owners may not place pet waste in Market trash receptacles. Pet waste must be removed from the market footprint and disposed of off-site.
Vendors who observe pets and pet owners not complying with the above rules should notify the Market Coordinator immediately. If the Market Coordinator is not immediately available, vendors should ask a pet owner to clean up after their pet if they see a pet relieving itself without proper clean up.
Columbus Farmers Market reserves the right to request that owners remove pets from the Market at any time.
The Columbus Farmers Market does not allow any political campaigning throughout the footprint of the market. This includes distributing political printed material, using costumed people to represent candidates or causes, and using any loudspeakers or other noise-producing equipment to call attention to political candidates or causes. Vendors or the general public are not restricted from wearing buttons or t-shirts promoting candidates or causes.
Vendors may apply to accept two optional payment options from participants in the WIC Farm Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (S.N.A.P.).
Goods Permitted to be Sold
Columbus Farmers Market is an open market and we do not limit the number of vendors selling specific products. When approving new vendors, the Market Coordinator takes into consideration the number of current vendors already selling a similar product.
At least 50% of the products sold at the market must be grown, raised, caught, gathered or produced by the vendor. As part of the approval process, the vendor must provide information pertaining to farm/ranch or production location and any other required information as contained in the Application Form.
All products must originate and be processed or manufactured in Indiana and must be pre-approved before being at the market. Wholesale or resale items, memberships or subscriptions are not permitted to be sold.
Food (Not for Immediate Consumption)
The following goods may be sold at the Columbus Farmers Market subject to applicable Federal, State, and Local laws, regulations and guidelines.
Plants, Produce, Cut Flowers
All plants and produce must be grown in the state of Indiana. Vendors are expected to grow at least 50% of what they sell. Goods grown by another Indiana farmer may be sold by the vendor if they are acquired directly from that farmer. Vendors must provide location information for any products grown by other farmers. Each plant must be cultivated by the vendor from seed or plug for a minimum of six weeks.
Plants or produce for sale cannot be purchased from a wholesale supplier. All sources of plants and produce must be listed on your application. If any vendor is found to be purchasing produce or plants for resale they may be asked to leave the market for the remainder of the season and no refunds will be paid to the vendor.
Vendors selling micro-greens or sprouts must possess a Temporary Food Vendor license from the Bartholomew County Health Department and have it available in your booth at all times.
Vendors selling wild mushrooms must have a Mushroom Certification License from the State of Indiana or have your product certified by a licensed mushroom expert. Vendors must also indicate location information showing general location where mushrooms have been foraged.
Processed Food items must be created or prepared in a facility in accordance with Indiana law and sold in prepackaged form and must be the original product of the vendor. All vendors selling processed foods must have their Board of Health licenses available at their stands at all times. Some examples of processed foods include:
- Jellies, Jams, and Preserves
- Dried vegetables and fruit
- Cider or other Pressed Juices
- Ice Cream
- Vinegars and Oils
- Baked Goods
- Honey & Syrups
- Flour and ground grains
The sale of these food items requires proper labeling and must consist of the following:
- Name of product
- Location of preparation
- Description of contents
- Net weight or units
Any questions regarding minimally processed food or high acid items should be directed to the Bartholomew County Health Department.
Home Based Vendor Products
The Indiana General Assembly created a home-based vendor (HBV) exemption with House Enrolled Act 1309. This exemption allows an individual to produce “non-potentially hazardous food products” in a home kitchen to sell only at farmer’s markets and roadside stands. No HBV foods may be sold (or resold) at other venues, including retail food establishments, festivals, carnivals, or any other event.
Foods that may create a public health risk are considered potentially hazardous foods and may NOT be produced and sold under the HBV exemption. A potentially hazardous food product includes a food that is natural or synthetic and requires temperature control because it is in a form capable of supporting the growth of disease-causing bacteria. All non-potentially hazardous foods have a pH of less than or equal to 4.6 AND water activity of less than 0.85.
Food products processed by a HBV (Home Based Vendor) are currently sellable under Indiana law providing they are only sold at Farmers Markets or Roadside Stands. Items produced by a HBV must have proper labeling, which must consist of the following:
- Name and address of producer
- Common name of the product
- Ingredients included in the food product listed in descending order by weight
- Net weight and volume of package
- Date the food product was produced.
HBV products must also contain a label with the following warning: “This product is home-produced and processed and the production area has not been inspected by the State Department of Health” in at least 10-point type. For more detailed information about home based vendors, see the Purdue Extension Entrepreneur Series.
Some examples of Home Based Vendor products include:
- Baked Goods
- Candy & Confections
- Tree nuts and Legumes
- Honey, Molasses, Sorghum, Maple Syrup
- Jams, Jellies, Preserves-only high acid fruit
Beer and Wine
Beer and/or Wine products that are made by the vendor may be sold and sampled. They must be made and packaged in accordance with all state and federal laws. Vendor must have proper permits on display in their booth.
Vendors must obtain a current egg license issued by the State Egg Board, a Temporary Food Handler License from the county health department if selling quail or duck eggs, and sell in accordance with the following regulations:
1) Eggs must be clean and sound shelled (cracked eggs removed).
2) Dealer must be licensed by State Egg Board and present license upon request.
3) Eggs must be held under refrigeration at an ambient temperature of no greater than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
4) Used egg cartons may be used ONLY if relabeled with name and address of supplier of eggs.
5) Pack date and expiration date must appear on each carton. Expiration date is 30 days from date of pack
Vendors must obtain a Temporary Food Handler License from the county health department. Meat must be kept frozen at all times. Meats must be processed from an establishment inspected by the Indiana Board of Animal Health or the United States Department of Agriculture. Appropriate labeling must be clearly stated on each meat product sold.
Food Concessions (for Immediate Consumption)
- A limited number of spots are available for food concessions.
- Vendors must make all food items themselves.
- No wholesale, resale or prepackaged foods are permitted.
- Vendors are encouraged to use Indiana grown ingredients in their foods.
- A menu must be included with your application.
- A minimum double booth space is required for all Food Concessionaires that cook.
- Health Department and/or Fire permits must be obtained and all rules followed.
- Have a working ABC fire extinguisher on site and readily accessible.
- Trash cans must be provided if you use disposable service ware.
- Ground covering must be provided to protect space from spills, residue, or damage.
If you are selling pet food, an Indiana Commercial Feed License must be obtained and displayed. All applicable rules must be followed.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and Craft items will be juried by the Columbus Farmers Market Staff. All work must be designed and executed by the vendor. No commercially manufactured items or objects produced from kits are eligible. Items should be original and of the highest quality.
Staff reserves the right to jury any unacceptable items on site. Vendors should submit photos representative of the types of items they intend to sell. Photos should show the range and quality of the product. The Market Staff may request further information about the creative process of various items.
A limited number of spots are available for non-profit groups to fundraise or provide education to the public. Non-profits who wish to sell items from any of the above categories must follow the rules and regulations that apply to all vendors selling products or services. Items offered for sale are to be pre-approved by the Market Coordinator.
It is the responsibility of each vendor to apply for and maintain all licenses, permits, and certifications required to sell their specific products. Copies of all necessary regulatory licenses will be verified by the Columbus Farmers Market staff prior to granting permission to sell at the Market. Please have all documents available for inspection on your first day at the Market. Any documentation required to be displayed at your booth must be posted at your booth before you are allowed to sell at the market.
Documentation required to sell products at the Market:
- Indiana State Egg License
- State Sales Tax Permit
- Mushroom Certification
- Temporary Food Health Permit from Bartholomew County Health Department
- Commercial Feed License from the Indiana State Chemist (Pet Food)
- Certified Scales by the Department of Weights and Measures
All scales used for weighing customer goods must be certified by the State Department of Weights and Measures. Scales must be licensed annually.
Code of Conduct
Vendors shall be honest and conduct themselves in a courteous and professional manner. Rude, abusive, offensive or other disruptive conduct will not be permitted. All items for sale must be clearly marked with the retail price. Prices may be placed on the product with an individual sign or sticker or may be posted as a list of prices on a large sign or board easily legible to the public.
Vendors may not use loud music, flashing lights, or other disruptive practices to call attention to their booth. No shouting or disrespectful behavior is allowed or tolerated. Vendors are not permitted to stand more than two feet outside one’s allocated space to attract customers.
Vendors are solely responsible for all claims, injuries, or damages resulting from the sale of unsound or unsafe goods. Vendors are responsible for and shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and ordinances pertaining to their products and shall have obtained all necessary licenses, permits, and inspections prior to selling any products at the Market. All permits and licenses must be displayed as required. Vendors are responsible for collecting all applicable sales tax in accordance with State of Indiana and local laws.
Rules and Legal Rights
All rules are subject to change and most changes will occur during the off season or at the start of the market season. Any rules that are changed during the market season will take effect the following market season unless such change, because of legal, contractual, or safety reasons, must take place immediately. When rules are changed, vendors will be notified of rule changes by email or in writing.
Rules exist to protect the integrity of the Market, our individual vendors, our sponsors, and the City of Columbus. We have established rules which we feel will result in a well-organized, well-run, and successful Market; a Market of integrity and of transparency. It is primarily the responsibility of the Market Coordinator to enforce the rules of the Market with the help of the vendors and the Columbus Farmers Market Staff. The Market Coordinator and the Columbus Farmers Market Staff, with input from individual vendors, write, enact, review, interpret, and modify the rules of the Market.
Columbus Farmers Market Vendors who have concerns about market operations, policies or other vendor’s compliance should submit a Vendor Concern Form directly to the Market Coordinator or to a member of the Columbus Farmers Market Staff. A copy of the Vendor Concern Form is also included as Appendix B of the Columbus Farmers Market Handbook.
Vendors can submit a Product Challenge Form if they believe another vendor is misrepresenting their product. This form must be submitted within one week of the market during which the alleged violation occurred. There is a $25 filing fee (which can be shared by a group of vendors) for filing a Product Challenge Form. This is refundable if the claim is verified. A copy of the Product Challenge Form is also included as Appendix C of the Columbus Farmers Market Handbook.
Resolution to disputes between a vendor and the Market Coordinator will first be attempted between the two parties. If no resolution can be reached, then the dispute will be resolved through consultation with the Columbus Farmers Market Staff.
The Columbus Farmers Market maintains a Liability Insurance policy covering injuries that may occur at the Market however this policy covers the Market in general and is intended to work in conjunction with individual policies provided by the vendors.
There are two types of insurance purchased by farmer’s market vendors— overall liability (slip and fall) and product liability. Insurance is frequently a large expense and vendors are encouraged to fully understand the policy you are purchasing and shop around for the best coverage and rates. The kind of policy you should purchase and how much coverage you need should be discussed with an insurance professional.
Below is a basic description of the two types of insurance.
Liability Insurance covers the farmers market for accidents that may occur at the market during business hours, such as customer falls and injuries. These are also known as “slip and fall” policies. Because vendors themselves could get injured while at the market, the Columbus Farmers Market includes a “hold harmless” clause as part of the market rules in which the vendors agree not to hold the market liable for injuries and damage they might incur. This type of policy does not cover illness that may result from spoiled products.
Product Liability policies cover the individual vendors for liability from the products they have sold. Producers who sell value-added products and do sampling events may want to purchase this type of insurance. Policy cost is usually based on gross sales. Most companies have a minimum policy that reflects higher gross sales than most farmers market vendors enjoy.
Your farm or homeowner’s policy may or may not cover you—check with your insurance professional. To help protect themselves from liability claims, value-added product producers should carefully follow the correct procedures and keep meticulous records on the steps and safety practices used in every batch of product they make.
All vendors will be required to provide a general liability certificate or personal liability certificate along with the booth rent payment, if the vendor is approved for participation at the Columbus Farmer’s market. The liability coverage shall be 1mm for single occurrence and 2mm for aggregate coverage.* It shall name the city of Columbus, its employees and officials as an additional insured. The issuing insurance company shall have an A.M. Best rating of B++ or better. If the vendor is selling alcohol, the coverage shall be 2mm per single occurrence and 2mm aggregate coverage with the same clauses and rating requirements.
If a policy has no annual aggregate (such as a farm policy or homeowner policy) that also will satisfy the liability requirements as listed above. A notation in the comment section of the certificate indicating the policy in question has no aggregate is sufficient.
Failure to comply with any rules, regulations, or policies contained in this Columbus Farmers Market Handbook will result in the Columbus Farmers Market issuing a warning to the vendor to comply with the rules, regulations, and policies or, in the case of serious non-compliance, immediately dismissing the Vendor from further participation in the Market. In the event a Vendor is dismissed from the Market no previously paid fees will be refunded to the Vendor. Any unpaid fees owed by the Vendor shall be due and payable immediately.
If a vendor does not abide by a rule of the market, the Market Coordinator has the discretion to impose a penalty, which may include a written warning, monetary fine and/or suspension or dismissal from the market.
In the case of a customer behaving in a manner that is disruptive, inappropriate, uncomfortable or unsafe toward another customer or vendor, the Market Coordinator should be immediately notified. The Market Coordinator, with the support of the Columbus Farmers Market Staff, has the right to handle the situation in any way deemed appropriate.
The Market Coordinator may at any time ask a vendor to remove any non-approved or non-compliant item(s) deemed inappropriate or unsafe for customer consumption.
After receiving warning, repeat violators may be temporarily or permanently banned as vendors at the Columbus Farmers Market. If a violation is a serious health and/or safety concern and/or a behavioral issue, any vendors may be asked to leave without prior warning, at the discretion of the Market Coordinator or by a member of the Columbus Farmers Market Staff.