NOTE: This story has been updated to include a correction by Borougn Attorney Glenn Brown.
In rural parts of the Lower 48, it’s not unusual to see roadside produce stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables. Ketchikan residents may soon be able to set up their own stands and sell their garden produce directly to local consumers.
At the request of some local gardeners, a new provision is making its way through the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s process to allow residents to sell home-grown produce to neighbors.
The idea was brought up in February to the planning commission, and eventually became an ordinance that was introduced during the assembly’s last meeting.
Here’s Interim Planning Director Richard Harney, speaking to the assembly: “All of the excess product that they grow on their property, they want to be able to sell it to their neighbors. Currently they give it away. The applicant, or the requestor, gives it away to neighbors in the community. But he wants to be able to sell them legally from his property.”
The proposed ordinance would amend borough code to allow that commercial activity. Harney said the ordinance includes definitions for different kinds of gardening: Residential garden, hobby garden and garden stand.
A residential garden is the kind most homeowners would cultivate – for personal use only. A hobby garden is a step up from that.
“The hobby garden would allow them to essentially export their produce from their residential site to a commercial venue of some sort,” Harney said. “A garden stand is the retail element of this ordinance.”
A garden stand would need a conditional use permit. That means neighbors would have a chance to comment on whether or not a stand should be allowed.
Assembly Member Alan Bailey questioned whether someone could sell home-grown marijuana through the ordinance. Harney said no, because marijuana retail sales are regulated by the state.
Harney added that the ordinance only applies to produce. Eggs and dairy products would not be allowed.
According to Borough Attorney Glenn Brown, residential and hobby garden would not need permits.
There was a question about whether a business license also would be required. Borough Manager Ruben Duran said that’s the state’s concern.
The ordinance passed in first reading and will come back to the assembly for a public hearing and second vote on June 4.
This report has been edited to correct an error.