First Steps into the Cottage Food World

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I am lucky to live in Colorado where we have adopted two pieces of Cottage Food legislation. Cottage Foods are essentially home-grown products that can be sold small-scale by a home producer. This usually translates into (uncut) produce, jams and jellies and various non-custard baked goods. For example, you could sell whole zucchini and bake oatmeal cookies but you couldn’t sell pasta sauce and cream-filled eclairs. Most jams and jellies are OK simply because the amount of sugar within acts as a preservative.

After figuring out that I wanted to pursue “something related to urban agriculture” I decided to focus first on becoming a Cottage Food producer. This seems like a gentle entry into the food producing world, and most of the products are things that I already make at home. Of course there are steps to becoming a producer; you don’t just pop up a farm stand and write open for business on a piece of poster board.

The easy step is getting training and certification from Colorado State University’s extension offices. You simply sign up, pay the $30 fee and spend a half day at the training. I will be attending my training on April 8-very excited 🙂  Step two is receiving a business/building permit for a home-based business. In Denver, this seems to be fairly streamlined, but in my area of Littleton, we’re all learning what these permit steps look like together.

So far, I’ve contacted Littleton’s permit department and worked with two great ladies there who were nothing but supportive, BUT I need approval from my HOA before continuing. My request email is into my HOA now, we’ll see what the board decides…

Although my application process is just taking off, elsewhere the State of Colorado is paying quite a bit of attention to getting this Cottage Food legislation right. Efforts lead by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) are focused on regulation language and requirements of Cottage Food production. To achieve this goal, CDPHE is holding monthly stakeholder meetings, open to the public, to discuss regulation language and requirements of Cottage Food production.

To date, CDPHE has held five meetings with a sixth scheduled on April 5 (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/cottage-foods-regulation-development ). The State is currently focused on “Tier 2” foods, items previously not allowed as Cottage Foods because they require more fine-tuned processing. One great example of a Tier 2 food is salsa. Salsa has to be kept at a pH below 4.6 to be safe for canning and human consumption-but how does the State know if you are taking all the necessary steps at home to make sure that your salsa is safe? These stakeholder meetings are all about establishing best practices to set the producer, consumer and State up for success.

Of course I’ll keep you up to date on my HOA board’s decision, but I will be attending the CSU course on Cottage Food come rain or shine. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about Cottage Foods in Colorado check out these sites, happy reading!

http://cofarmtomarket.com/value-added-products/cottage-foods/

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/Reg_DEHS_FactSheet_CottageFoodsAct.pdf

http://forrager.com/law/colorado/

 

 

 

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