In a bid to strengthen the local economy by adding jobs and building trusting relationships among its citizens, Denver, Colorado, has implemented a new urban farming program which allows its residents not only to cultivate their own food but to sell homegrown produce as well.
The Colorado Cottage Foods Act,[PDF] passed in 2012, allows small-scale producers to sell “potentially non-hazardous foods” without a license directly from their homes, roadside stands, websites, events and farmers markets.
Suppliers must pay a one-time fee of $20 before selling their items any time between the hours of 8:00 AM and dusk. Sellers may grow the food at their own gardens or at any urban farm.
Under the program, suppliers must only sell directly to consumers and not to third-party retailers, such as grocery stores or restaurants. Sellers are also required to label packaged foods with their name, address and ingredient lists, as well as the date of packaging for items such as eggs. While sellers may not exceed $5,000 a year in net sales per product, there is no cap on overall sales; thus, growers cans sell as much as they want, as long as the sales per product does not exceed the set limit.
Foods that require refrigeration, on the other hand, such as salsa, condiments and some baked goods, are excluded from the provisions of the act and should therefore be prepared and sold in accordance with the state’s standard licensing process for food retailers.
The program is intended to “expand access to affordable foods and help increase neighbor-to-neighbor interactions, as well as give people additional income opportunities,” reports the Denver Business Journal. “It’s also meant to help improve sustainability by reducing the transportation time and distance food travels to reach a person’s table.”
Deb Neeley, one of the first to take advantage of the city’s new urban farming program, intends to sell her products thrice a week from a stand set up in front of her house.
“Our goal is to provide the most vibrant and healthful organic produce, eggs and wellness products from a residential farm and branch locations in NW Denver,” reads the website for Neeley’s produce stand.
Called Green Gate Urban Farm & Gardens, her stand will offer a variety of items including apples, pears, currant, elderberry, leafy green kale and collards, radishes, beets and many more.
“This is about as fresh as it gets,” said Neeley, who told The Denver Post that her green grape vines produced about 100 pounds of fruit last year. “Everybody should have access to nutritious, organic food, and it should be affordable,” she said.
“A lot of what I’m trying to do is set an example here to inspire people to grow their own food as well — I don’t want to be the only one doing this.”