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UC Cooperative Extension Hosts Cottage Food Operations Workshop Series

…for farmers interested in producing value-added products

University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) will present a hands-on workshop series at the UCCE Mendocino County office in Ukiah on May 15 and 22, 2014. This two-part workshop series is one of six being offered at locations across Northern California designed especially for farmers interested in producing value-added products in their home kitchens. Participants will learn about the new California Homemade Food Act (AB1616), which allows individuals to prepare and package certain non-potentially hazardous foods in private-home kitchens referred to as “Cottage Food Operations” (CFOs).

“Most farmers don’t know that if they become a Cottage Food Operator, they can legally sell products made with their very own produce in their home kitchens, including fruit jams, jellies, pies, and dried fruit. This is an exciting opportunity because farmers can now make delicious products with the season’s abundance, diversify their operations, and generate new income,” stated University of California Davis Agricultural Economist Shermain Hardesty. Rachel Elkins, UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor for Lake and Mendocino Counties agrees, “Cottage foods are a terrific way for small producers to add value to tree crops including pears, apples, and walnuts.”

While designed especially for farmers, the workshop series is also open to others wishing to learn how to produce and sell cottage foods. “This workshop series will benefit all new and prospective Cottage Food Operators by providing practical information to support the success of their new cottage food business ventures,” explained UCCE North Bay Food Systems Advisor, Julia Van Soelen Kim.

The workshop series is partially funded by a California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant and will cover: CFO Law; food science and sanitation; business operations for CFOs; packaging, storage, and marketing of CFO products; and hands-on demonstrations and tastings with jams, jellies, honey, nuts, dried fruit, and baked goods. Because processed meat, dairy, fermented foods, and juices are not legally acceptable cottage foods, they will not be covered in these workshops.

Workshops take place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with lunch provided at six Northern California locations including: Ukiah at UC Cooperative Extension in Mendocino County on May 15 and May 22, 2014

The two-part workshop series costs $25 with advance registration and $40 at the door, space permitting. For more information and to register, visit the registration webpage at or contact UCCE Mendocino at (707) 463-4495 or UCCE Lake at (707) 263-6838.

— JT Williams, UCCE, Hopland


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