Massachusetts defines nursery stock under Chapter 128 of the General laws as trees, shrubs, woody plants and strawberry plants, whether wild or cultivated and parts thereof for propagation. It does not include herbaceous plants such as spring or fall flowers and vegetable bedding plants grown in greenhouses.
Q. I want to sell plants at our local farmers market. Are there any certificates that I need?
A. If the plants you plan to sell are herbaceous plants (other than strawberry plants), then they do not need a certificate of inspection.
If the plants are nursery stock or strawberry plants, the plants need a certificate of inspection from the Division of Crop and Pest Services, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). The nursery inspection program prevents and minimizes the impact of pests entering the state.
All nurseries or places where nursery stock is grown is required to be inspected and certified to be free of pests each year regardless of the quantity being grown. Growers in the Commonwealth who export plant material and/or seed require inspections prior to shipping. Agent licenses are issued to retail outlets who purchase nursery stock and offer it for resale.
For information on certificates and agent licenses, contact MDAR, Plant Inspection - Laws and Regulations.
Application forms for a Nursery Agent License and Nursery Grower Certificate are available at:
Summary of General Laws, Chapter 128, Agriculture, Sections 17, 19, and 20 pertain to nursery stock
Section 17: Inspection of nurseries; certificate; suppression of pests
All nurseries or places where nursery stock is grown is required to be inspected and certified to be free of pests each year.
Section 19: Sale of nursery stock, grower's certificate
Growers or dealers who sell, exchanges, gives, delivers or ships nursery stock within Massachusetts must obtain a current grower's certificate (within 12 months).
Section 20: Importation of nursery stock, certificate of inspection
Nursery stock brought into Massachusetts must have an unexpired certificate of inspection.
Farmer's Market Rules
Individual farmer's markets have their own rules. For rules for specific farmers markets, talk to the Market Manager. Here is a farmer's market directory for contacts:
Nursery Inspection Resources – MDAR
MDAR Plant Inspection Laws and Regulations -MDAR
Farmers Market Resources in Massachusetts -MDAR