Apply today to Grow a Garden!

Hi all! Check out this wonderful program from Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) to purchase low-cost seeds for delicious vegetables this summer! Deadline to apply is February 10!

Information and Applications available at the link below:

Grow a Garden– seeds, seedlings & know-how

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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.

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2016: A New Year, a New Messy Kitchen

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The beginning of 2016 has brought about some great changes for me. We recently moved into a beautiful new condo right on the bike path and golf course with views off the deck of the mountains we love to camp in. We got very lucky in finding this place. We had searched for homes for quite a while (the Denver market is INSANE) and this was almost the one that we let slip by. Thankfully we worked with a GREAT realtor George Martin and he, and his wife Tami, helped get us into our first real home. It’s very exciting and, even if the boxes still aren’t all unpacked, it feels right. And did I mention the kitchen is AWESOME?? I’m spoiled.

Along with getting married last fall and starting our lives in a new home, I’ve decided to start on a new personal adventure, one inspired by my volunteer work in food access. For the last year I’ve been volunteering with Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council (SFPC). The council’s focus is on improving healthy food access in Denver and pulling together the right hearts and minds to carry that out. I’ve loved this work and loved learning from the brightest leaders in Denver who are focused on creating a better community for all of us. They’re an inspiring group of people and the work is impossible not to feel passionate about. My work with the SFPC has opened my eyes to what else is going on in our community, where help is needed and what I could do.

In meeting folks involved with the SFPC I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about urban agriculture and learn more about the homegrown industries surrounding it. One of the more exciting opportunities is with cottage foods. Colorado has a Cottage Food Law that allows home producers to sell veggies and a handful of homemade goods to local customers; and here’s where I want to take Messy Kitchen Happy Belly. I’d like to leverage the support you all have given me into a small cottage food organization that uses science, cooking and community to create something really special. I’ve put a lot of thought into this, hassled my husband, my mom and my friends and I am blessed to say I’ve received nothing but support and love. So with that, let’s do this friends!

I hope you’ll join me on this adventure. I plan to really write about what I’m working on-the good, bad and ugly. In the past I’ve only shown you all a piece of the puzzle but let’s dive deeper. Let’s talk about food policy in Denver as it unfolds, let’s talk about community needs, let’s talk about great recipes with ugly produce, let’s talk about water quality and soil temperatures, and most of all-let’s build this together.

This will be a new challenge for me and one I’m excited to embark on. Like the (72) seedlings I have growing on my porch, I’m excited and filled with hope for this season. In the past year I’ve lost both my grandmothers, watched family grow ill and seen some great people let wonderful opportunities slip away because they were too scared to see where they might go. This life is short and it’s a blessing, let’s celebrate it every day.

I’m looking forward to see what comes and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. Cause if your dreams don’t scare you, they ain’t big enough…