National Cottage Food Conference, My Review – Day 4

Wow! I can not believe we are already on Day 4, the very last day of the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference. So much thanks goes to Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko for all of their work in making this happen. There was so much information shared, so many new acquaintances made, so many ideas to implement in the future, and so much more!

The keynote was Food Freedom Frontier, by Alexia Kulwiec, Executive Director of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

This presentation was very interesting and in-depth. I have no idea how anyone can keep up with all of the rules and regulations, especially small farms. Alexia discussed all of the rules and regulation for selling your locally produced foods. The good news is there are many new laws coming up to lesson some of these regulations and make it easier to get fresh foods to the consumers. I’ve included a summary of her talk here. It is very worth watching this recording.

“Consumers are demanding locally grown and produced food more than ever, and the country has seen an increase in cottage food entrepreneurs as a solution to less employment opportunities brought about by COVID-19. This keynote presentation will explore the opportunities for small farmers and food producers in light of COVID-19. The presentation will address how often federal and local laws make it challenging for small producers to market directly to consumers. Alexia will discuss some existing state and local regulations that have eased the regulatory burden and support cottage food production, such as the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, as well as number of pending State proposals to do the same. COVID-19 has brought attention the vulnerability of the U.S. food system, and small producers can be a big part of the solution.”

Following the pattern of the last three days a live Q & A session, which was recorded, came after every workshop. Lisa hosted these sessions.

At 2pm we heard Lauren Cortesi talk about How to be a Successful Home-based Baker. Lauren is the owner of Bella’s Desserts in Glenmoore, Philadelphia.

It may seem that many subjects were repeated. I admit that some of it was repetitious, but there are so many facets of this business that nothing was boring and there was a lot of new content in every workshop. Lauren really focused on the importance of inexpensive advertising and pricing. Never compromise on your price, you are worth it.

The 3pm workshop was by the very awesome Lisa Kivirist, speaking about Recipes & Resources: Increase Sales through Local Ingredients & Creative Packaging

Lisa spoke about how to incorporate local fresh ingredients in to your recipes. She also gave some of her tips for making unique displays and packaging. The cuter the packaging, the more you can charge. 🙂

4pm, it’s the very last workshop of the conference, Managing Risk and Liabilities with Insurance. This was covered by Rachel Armstrong is a Minnesota native, Founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons.

Liability is a very important subject that I personally don’t think a lot of people take seriously enough. In a sue happy world you always need to be prepared for the unexpected. Rachel discussed how important it is to understand exactly what liability is and how the law defines it. She also went over how to protect yourself from liability through insurance and how to find the correct insurance to cover your needs. This was the last workshop of the conference and in my opinion it was the most important one. Having proper insurance is the most important thing you can do for your business. Be sure to look Rachel up and learn about liability.

At 5pm, Lisa, John and their son did a quick recap of the events. In the end 901 cottage foodies attended this conference. They thanked everyone who attended and with one final way and a smile they said goodbye. I am sure they are looking forward to a well deserved rest this weekend.

Jen and I hosted one last virtual meetup on behalf of the Minnesota attendees at 6pm. We had so much fun getting to know new fellow cottage food producers. Even a producer from Santa Crus, California joined us and told us a little bit about how cottage food law works there. It was hard to say good bye that we decided to continue to meet up in the future. Stay tuned for more information on that.

What an amazing week! Perhaps the next one will be in person. I hope so, I’m looking forward to sharing a glass of wine with you all. Maybe next year. 🙂

One more quick note! You can still register to see the recordings of all the events. Just contact Lisa Kivirist, co-author of Homemade for Sale for more information.

Introducing Cruz

Amy Chladek, owner of Chladek Cookies, is a cottage food producer in Blooming Prairie, MN. Recently her baking partner, six-year-old Cruz, was super excited to become a registered cottage food producer all on his own! He may just be our youngest CFP in Minnesota. We are so happy for him, and we know his mama is very proud. We were honored that Amy and Cruz agreed to tell us their story so that we could share it with you.

Here is the story of Amy and Cruz, told by Amy:

“I have loved baking all of my life, I started with decorating cakes for friends and family.  Once we had Cruz, decorating cakes kind of went on the back burner.  I stumbled on a great cookie recipe and really started diving into cookies more.  When Cruz was three, he started helping me with any sort of baking. It didn’t matter what it was, he wanted in on it.  

My close friend suffered an unexpected death in the family and was having a silent auction to help with finances.  I wanted to do something for the family, so Cruz and I donated 3 dozen cookies every month for a year as a silent auction item.  We had so much fun doing it, we ended up donating it again to a cancer live auction the next year.  Long story short, people started asking what I charge for cookies.  I had gone back and forth about becoming a registered cottage food producer for about 1 1/2 years, and finally did it a couple months ago, as Chladek Cookies, specializing in drop cookies.  Cruz struggled with the idea of mom baking without him being involved, I do most baking at night when my kids are sleeping.  Cruz begged and begged if he could help, so I explained to him that he had to do some training.  So, one night we sat down and went through the training and sent in his application.  

Cruz is 6 and is in kindergarten.  He has a younger brother Creed who is three.  Cruz does a great job helping his brother with measuring out ingredients, and baking.  Cruz is in wrestling, loves to fish, drive/race his RC car, swim, dance, play Minecraft and be outside.  He is a very creative kid, he likes school and his favorite thing to do after school is to play outside, play the Wii or play Minecraft.”

I asked Amy if Cruz would mind answering a few questions for us and he very kindly did.

*I have been baking since I was six years old. How old were you when you first started baking?

          Cruz: I was 3 years old when I started helping with baking.

* What are your favorite things to bake?

          Cruz: My favorite thing to bake is cakes, chocolate cakes.

* What is your favorite part of baking?

          Cruz: My favorite part of baking is getting messy.

* What was your largest baking project?

         Cruz: My biggest project was helping my mom make my 5th birthday cake, it was a king cobra snake.

* Do you have a favorite cooking utensil? For instance, I love my Danish spatula!

         Cruz: My favorite utensil is my own hand mixer.

* Have you created any of your own recipes?

        Cruz: I created banana muffins on my own, and a green cake.

* Do you have any baking tips for other kids wanting to become registered cottage food producers?

          Cruz: Tips for kids is to ask your parents if you can be a cottage food producer.

* Is there anything you would like people to know about being a cottage food producer and baking for others in general?

          Cruz: I want people to know that you have to wash your hands and it (the product) has to be homemade.

Thank you so much Cruz and Amy!

We wish you the very best of luck and can’t wait to taste some of that green cake!

National Cottage Food Conference, My Review – Day 3

Well it is Day 3 at the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference. I logged on a little before the first workshop and had some time to visit with some of the other cottage foodies attending the conference. There are so many wonderful people in the cottage food world. If there is one thing I have always admired about cottage foods it is the sense of community. Over and over you will hear that most cottage food producers started their businesses because of their love of sharing their foods with others, contributing to those in need and supporting our local businesses. “Food is Love” is not just a saying, it’s a fact that has been proven time and time again by the cottage food producers that I have encountered along the way.

At 1pm the Keynote speaker today was David Crabill from Forrager. David was talking about how to Increase your Sales Through the Power of Technology. Many of you who have followed my blogs through the years will have heard me mention David a lot. When I first began to get our bill amended David was a huge support and a wealth of information. His passion for cottage foods single handedly made it what it is today. All from the goodness of his heart. David runs Forrager with nothing but donations. David also runs his own fudge business called Crabill Candy.

But today he spoke about how technology can be overwhelming, yet so essential for this day. In this lesson he breaks down the options and shares strategies to make the most of technology and grow a cottage food business. I have listed some links to the things he spoke about below. Just click the links.

Chart & Slides from the Talk

Free Mini Course, How to Start a Cottage Food Business

Forrager Podcast

The Q & A with David and Lisa Kivirist garnered more information. Remember, even these segments have been recorded.

Our 2pm workshop was titled Cottage to Commercial Bakery, a Journey of Passion, by Dave Sanders owner of Poppy And Sweetpea’s Cookies

“Making the transition from a cottage food bakery to a commercial bakery is a journey of passion. Building a commercial kitchen in your home is not a small undertaking. There are many details and factors you have to work through and on when taking on such a large task. Building code issues, zoning concerns, restrictions from Home Owners Associations and state and county health codes are just the beginning! With due diligence, research and lots of conversations, it is not an insurmountable task.”

Dave went into great detail on how to decide if building a commercial kitchen is right for you and everything you will need to do this. It was really impressive to see what he accomplished in his own basement. He has a book called, Building a Commercial Kitchen in Your Home, that you can buy. His website is: Poppy And Sweetpea’s Cookies

This was of course followed by the Q & A session, hosted by Brett Olson of Renewing the Countryside. Brett hosted all of the remaining Q & A’s of the day.

The 3pm workshop, Go Local: Using Regional Grains in your Products by Amy Halloran. She is a member of the Artisan Grain Collaborative which is comprised of many Midwest companies that specialize on using local grains in their products. Such a bread bakeries, breweries, etc. They have a program called Neighbor Loaves, which not only uses local grains to make bread, but then they donate that bread to community organizations to support your neighbors in need. You can read more about that here: Neighbor Loaves

I really enjoyed how much passion you could hear in her voice as she spoke. I wanted to rush right out and grind my own flour to bake a loaf of bread! She wrote a great book titled, The New Bread Basket, all about her support of local food industries. Amy lives in New York and she works to “create bridges between ideas and people through food.”

Canning Success was the last workshop of the day. Renee Pottle, author of Profitable Preserves, was the speaker. “Renee Pottle is serial side-gig entrepreneur, the founder of a specialty foods company, and the author of Profitable Preserves – How to Start an Artisan Jam and Jelly Business, Creative Jams and Preserves, and The Confident Canner. Over the years she has turned her passions for cooking and other traditional crafts into several adult education classes, solo businesses, books, and articles. Currently, Renee and her husband live in Washington state’s sunny Mid-Columbia region, where she grows peaches, raspberries, and way too many tomatoes. In her spare time, she spoils her seven perfect grandchildren, and a one very demanding cat. Find Renee online at SeedtoPantry.com where she writes about canning/preserving/baking.”

I honestly don’t know a lot about the canning part of cottage foods. I usually go to my friend Maureen for all of my canning information. But I love listening to how it’s done and of course eating the finished product on some homemade bread is so good! Renee Pottle had so much practical advice, definitely look her up before you decide to sell canned foods.

Before I go I would like to tell you about a few new Facebook groups you might be interested in joining. Lisa and John created the Facebook group, Cottage Food Con Attendees. This is specifically for everyone who attended the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference and would like to stay in touch after the conference. Another new group was created by one of the CFPs attending with hopes of connecting producers from all over. You can click the link to join here: Home Based Foodies Connect

Have a great evening!

National Cottage Food Conference, My Review – Day 2

Hi Everyone! It’s Day 2 at the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference. After running errands and throwing a roast in the oven I seated myself at the computer at 1pm, just in time to listen to Erica Smith from the Institute for Justice, the Keynote speaker for today. State of the States: Expanding Cottage Food Laws Across the Country. “The cottage food movement has surged in recent years, with expanded state laws opening up increased opportunities throughout our nation.  The reason for this growth? The engagement and activism of our community of home-based food entrepreneurs, often resulting in legal action breaking down undue barriers to earning an honest livelihood. Learn about how far we’ve come and, importantly, where we need to collaboratively go, from Erica Smith, the leading attorney at the Institute for Justice and national advocate championing the freedom to earn from our kitchens and advocating for our rights as home-based food entrepreneurs.”

Erica is a wonderful advocate for the cottage food industry. Although I was a little taken back when she took credit for Minnesota, that’s not exactly how that happened. It is important to understand how much the Institute for Justice does. They will step in and stand up for us when we can’t get anywhere with the legislative route. Erica really understands the heart of cottage foods and why it is so important for not only each individual, but our nation as a whole. If you have access to the recording you really should listen to it.

Favorite statement of the day, “Suing the government can be therapeutic.”

Just like yesterday there was a Q & A session after every talk and this one began at 1:35, with Erica and Lisa Kivirist. A lot of people had questions about the laws in their state. For more information about what the Institute for Justice is doing in your state you can check out their website: Defending Your Right to Sell Homemade Food

Remember that all of these sessions, including the Q &A’s, have been recorded and can be listened to later.

At 2pm the workshop was How to Make that “Dough” when it comes to Online Sales and the speakers were The Miracle Twins, actual twins Corrie and Heather. Their company is Sugar Cookie Marketing. They are so much fun and easy to follow along with. Today they shared with us the seven easy tips for marketing that you can do today and seven more difficult tips for marketing. I wrote down the easy tips, you’ll have to listen to the recording for the more difficult ones. 🙂

Tip 1. Photography – The best tip is indirect natural light. People buy with their eyes so make sure you have good pictures to post. Indirect light is the best prop for your product. Look around your home and find out where the best indirect light is and take your photos there.

Tip 2. Facebook and Instagram Pages – They are the place you need to be. Make sure you have a Facebook page and it’s easy to link to your Instagram account. Check out “Creator Studio” on your Facebook page. It is very helpful.

Tip 3. Streamlining Orders – You need to keep you order forms easy to access. Google Forms saves on time and keeps you more organized so you aren’t chasing down your customers info.

Tip 4. Networking – This is the cheapest form of advertising yourself. Join Facebook groups and all of the local groups in your town that you have something in common with, PTA, Mom Groups, Cookie Groups. etc. Get your name out there and meet the people.

Tip 5. A Challenge To Be Consistent – Being consistent on all of your platforms is important. Post often, stay engaged with your customers. Use your platform scheduling. Be sure to engage and answer people when they comment. Customers like to know who you are. (Our friends at Sailor Mercy are good examples of this. Posting regularly and getting to know the people behind the name makes you more apt to contact them when you are looking for the item they are selling.)

Tip 6. Ask For Those Reviews – You can’t please everyone so the best way to counter a bad review is with several good reviews. Follow up with your customers with Facebook messenger and ask for a positive review.

Tip 7. Keep An Eye On The Competition – Figure out who your nearest competitors are and watch what they are doing. If they try something and it doesn’t work, don’t do it. If it does work, put your own twist on it and sell it your way. (Cocoa Bombs were a great example of this!)

There you have it. For more about The Miracle Twins check out their website: Sugar Cookie Marketing

The 3pm workshop was Starting a Business: The Legal Basics where we joined Amy Cook from the Food Lawyer Network. Her talk covered what type of business formation or structure is right for you, such as sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation. She also covered how to negotiate contracts, protect your intellectual property, licensing and permits, and a lot more. This was very important information about personnel liability and things we really need to know in the world of business.

I’m afraid I missed the Q & A sessions for the Miracle Twins and Amy Cook, but as stated before they were recorded if you are interested.

At 4pm we heard Dawn Belisle of Delights by Dawn, an attorney turned baker speak on Stress & Time Management to Avoid Burnout. Dawn left her career as a fulltime local criminal attorney where she had been practicing for over 20 years in 2014, to pursue the dream of owning her own baking business. Her first major contract was with the Georgia Dome to sell her “Toxycakes” at all Falcons games and concerts. This led to contracts with many more major venues. She appeared on the National Cooking Show, Cupcake Showdown on The Cooking Channel on December 27, 2016. She can be found at local events, festivals, pop ups and online at www.delightsbydawn.com.

How to avoid burnout, which is going to happen since we basically work alone. Time management very important. You need to be more organized. Take off one to two days. One to rest and one to get organized. Figure out your slow days. Take this time to send emails, contact people, make this you administrative day. Check your inventory, restock. It is essential to take time to deal with the business side of your business.

Think ahead and pre-prep items. If you can take a day to bake and freeze you product. Then create the frostings before hand. It’s faster and easier to prepare the final product and package it. Being organized makes everything less stressful.

Selfcare is very important. You need someone you can talk to that understands what you are feeling and going through. All businesses can be stressful. Take a walk every day, take a break.

Sometimes you need to just step away. Take a day or two to do nothing that has to do with your business. Do something totally by yourself for an hour or two. If you don’t take the time to destress, you will not be able to maintain a successful business.

Dawn’s advice was fabulous! This workshop is a must. If you can’t listen to this recording, then check out her Facebook page or YouTube video.

Last but for sure not least, we attended the Q & A which Dawn did from France! She is there to take a pastry program, to learn more techniques to help with her business. Very cool! She reminded everyone to think outside the box and to remember that studies are a legitimate expense.

My take away from this workshop was the importance of how we as cottage food producers need to be more organized and to set boundaries. Especially since we work from home. We have to turn the phone off at a certain time and just be done with the day. And don’t forget to take a vacation! Your loyal customers will be there when you come back.

The Workshops are done for the day. Many of the virtual meet ups are beginning now and will go on for a few hours. The community chat is always open. I will not be attending the meet ups this evening. I think I’m going to take Dawn’s advise and go chill out for a bit. Good night everyone, see you tomorrow!

National Cottage Food Conference, My Review – Day 1

Good Morning! At first I was going to make this blog about the entire event, adding to it as it progressed. However, so much has been happening that I decided to try to make it daily. We’ll see how I do. 🙂 You can still get a ticket to the conference and attend. There may be a delay between when you register and get access to the conference platform. But all sessions are recorded so you won’t miss anything. Just click here: Conference Tickets

The first Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference officially began at 9am on April 6th, running until April 9th. However the conference really began weeks before that. As soon as attendees began registering and logging in to the Whova platform the party was on!

Whova is a relatively new platform for virtual conferences and it has so many options on how to conduct your conference. For the National Cottage Food Conference there were photos, polls, surveys, contests, community topics where cottage foodies from all over could bring up a topic for discussion and chat about it. This was all going on long before the conference officially began.

My first observation of the conference is excitement. Over 800 people registered and everyone was very excited to be participating. There were so many things to see and learn, it was almost overwhelming. I wanted to see it all! Once I figured out a way to prioritize what was of most interest to me it helped. But it was crazy fun! Kind of like going to the state fair and trying to see everything at once.

On April 6th there were a series of scheduled pre-recorded videos teaching the basics of cottage foods throughout the day until 4:40pm. I will tell you about the ones I attended.

Beginning at 9am, the first few workshops of the day were all about how cottage foods began and what you need to launch a successful cottage food business. Lisa Kivirist gave a preview of her 5.5-hour online Udemy course, How to Start and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen. For more information check out the overview of this course here: YouTube video for the Food Business Udemy course.

At 1pm, Lisa Kivirist was the keynote speaker: A Cottage Food Recipe for Resilience, Lisa gave an overview of what had brought her to this moment and what would be going on during the rest of the conference. “For the first time, our cottage food movement of home-based entrepreneurs around the country will come together through this Conference. A silver lining of the pandemic:  thousands of new upstarts are starting their mixers and whisking up new business ventures right from home and we can gather in this virtual space. Let’s kick off by celebrating how far we’ve come and raise a spatula to the future as Lisa Kivirist gives a welcome and overview of this new unique gathering and identifies the three reasons why our community of bakers, canners and food artisans exemplify and celebrate the needed resilience for a positive future.”

After the Keynote speaker there was a Q & A with Lisa and Brett Olson, co-founder of Renewing the Countryside. Brett fielded the questions that were in the chat box.

Then Lisa’s husband, John Ivanko, discussed how to turn your hobby into a business and what is the difference between the two. This was fantastic information on how to figure your business expenses, what can be used for your taxes, etc. This session was loaded with good info! My favorite statement of the day was, “Not a hobby, but celebrating freedom to earn.”

Once again after the pre-recorded video there was a Q & A session with John and Brett Olson. During all of this discussions were still happening over on the community chats.

Next up was a workshop with Lisa Petrizzi-Geller on how to make cocoa bombs, cookie kits and care packages. Lisa is from Massachusetts and POP Culture is the name of her business. She spoke about market trends and their importance, selling 3000 cocoa bombs over the holiday season. Also creating gift packages as a great business idea.

Then there was the Q & A afterwards, this time with Lisa Kivirist navigating the many questions.

At 4pm there was another workshop. This one was DIY Marketing to Reach New Customers and the speaker was Yuliya Childers, owner of Wild Yeast Kitchen. Originally from Ukraine, she now lives in Montgomery, Alabama where she bakes and sells bread. She was very down to earth and focused on the basics, like taking good pictures with just your cell phone. I really enjoyed listening to her.

I did not stay for this Q & A.

At 6pm there were many virtual meet ups that you could attend. Jennifer and I hosted the Minnesota Meet Up. We had a wonderful time chatting with and getting to know some of our fellow Minnesota cottage food producers, many of them newly registered. We will be hosting another Meet Up at 6pm on April 9th.

There was a 9pm cocktail hour scheduled that I considered attending, but I was kind of tired by that time. It was a long first day but very fulfilling and well worth it. Between the community chats and the scheduled workshops there is a wealth of information and so much to learn! I can only imagine that Lisa Kivirist and her family slept well last night.

Today the workshops will begin at 1pm with the Keynote speaker, Erica Smith from the Institute for Justice. She will be talking about Expanding Cottage Food Laws Across the Country.

Have a great day!

Upcoming Food Safety Webinars

The University of Minnesota Extension is offering the following food safety webinars. If you have not attended an advanced food safety training class it is highly recommended. Whether you are Tier 1 or 2 there is very important information to help make your business safe and successful. These webinars are April 24th, 2021 and December 4th, 2021. To register click this link: Cottage Food Producer Food Safety Training

If you can not attend the webinars the online training is always available: Cottage food Producer Food Safety Training – Online

Famers’ Markets, Covid-19, Legislation and PPP Info

Hello Everyone! I just sat in on the MFMA Monthly Zoom Open Forum. This is a good monthly meeting to attend if you are a farmers’ market vendor. You can find the dates and times on their Facebook page: Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association

There are new and updated guidelines for dealing with Covid-19 at the farmers’ markets this season. If you are going to be a vendor at a farmers’ market this year it is important to check this out.

You can find the PowerPoint presentation here or view a recording on the MFMA Facebook page on Thursday.

Stu Lourey is the Government Relations Director at Minnesota Farmers Union. Today he gave an update on what is going on with legislation on several Ag bills. Again, to fully hear everything please check out the Thursday recording.

Basically we are waiting to see what bills will be included in the omnibus bills. Stu shared these links with us, if you would like to hear this conversation live click on the links at the appointed times.

Senate – Tuesday @ 5:30pm https://www.leg.mn.gov/cal?type=single&mtgid=s_16274

House – Wednesday @ 1:00pm https://www.leg.mn.gov/cal?type=single&mtgid=h_31928

There is a program that you might want to take advantage of called the Paycheck Protection Program 2. Cottage Food Producers are eligible for this program, and Stu Lourey says that the use of the word “paycheck” is a misnomer and that this is a good assistance program if you need a little help. For more information check out this link:

PPP info https://www.misa.umn.edu/covid-19/grants-cost-share/paycheck-protection-program-2

Home-Based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference

Do you have a dream of starting your own food business right from your home kitchen? You are in good company:  Over 600 cottage food entrepreneurs and educators have registered for the first Home-Based Food Entrepreneur National Virtual Conference, bringing together an all-star lineup of cottage food leaders and operators covering a range of topics from marketing and pricing, business structure, new product ideas as well as insight into the future of the food freedom movement nationally. A silver lining of the pandemic has been the surge of home-based business start-ups, with folks selling cookies, breads, jams, candies and other food products under their state’s cottage food law.

On the virtual conference platform, there is opportunity to connect with others, enter a product photo contest and join specific state meet-ups. Whether you operate an established cottage food business or are just starting out, this gathering is for you. Hosted by the non-profit, Renewing the Countryside, the 4-day, all-digital conference takes place April 6 to 9, 2021 so you can attend without having to leave home and all sessions will be recorded to watch later. Tickets are just $20. 

And that’s not all! The party has already begun with cottage foodies from all over the country taking polls, participating in the photo contest, playing games and just generally chatting & getting to know each other. On April 6th, at 6:00pm Minnesota will have a virtual meet and greet. Be sure to join us in representing our state.

You can access all of the fun right now, just download the app on your phone or tablet. See https://whova.com/web/wfts_202006/ for more information and to register. 

Hurry! Space is limited. 

Spring Update 2021

Hi Everyone! Hello Minnesota Spring!

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, life as we knew it changed drastically. I want to take a moment to express my sincere condolences to everyone who suffered heartache during this time. Also, my deep gratitude to all of our very essential people who battled on to take care of the rest of us. It’s with pride that I can say our MN cottage food producers stepped up to the plate and really lent a helping hand where ever they could. One thing is for sure, even as this virus tried to keep us apart, we still found a way to succeed together.

We are excited to be a part of the upcoming national cottage food conference, which is just six days away! There are almost 600 cottage food producers attending nationwide and there will be many interesting speakers including the keynote speaker, David Crabill from Forrager. David has been such a big part of the cottage food industry for many years and a great help to us while we worked on our bills. If you would like to view a sneak peek of his presentation he has shared it here: Cottage Food Conference Keynote Sneak Peek – Customer Buy Cycle

If you would like to attend please register now. The conference is virtual, April 6th – 9th. You can register here: register for the conference for only $20. 

Also be sure to subscribe to David’s newsletter with information on his podcasts. He always has interesting people to chat with from the cottage food world. Click here: Forrager Cottage Food Community

Legislature Update: I’m afraid that I don’t have much to update. We are still in kind of a holding pattern and the legislatures are on spring break until April 6th. However, if you haven’t already contacted your district senators and representatives please do. Once things start progressing again it will move swiftly. If you have written to your district reps, a follow-up letter or phone call after April 6th will be a great help. The bill numbers are SF1254 & HF1430 for the cottage food cap raise, etc. and the pet treat bill numbers are SF1610 & HF2014.

If you don’t know who represents your district you can find your legislators in the MN Senate and MN House by entering your address here: Who Represents Me?

UPCOMING MNCFPA APRIL WEBINARS

Tea Time With Alison!

As the saying goes, “April showers, bring May flowers”, it also brings Mother’s Day which is May 9th. Alison Smith is the creator of the cutest gift set to give to that special person in your life and is going to share it with us on our April 8th English Tea Webinar. Bring your cup of tea and join us!

You can get tickets here: Creating the Perfect English Tea Party for Mother’s Day 2021

Farm Fresh Baking Tips

On April 19th we will be presenting our Farm Fresh Webinar. Shopping local and supporting our Minnesota farms is always upper most on our minds. But baking with farm fresh eggs is not as easy as one would think. How do you calculate your eggs for a recipe when all of your eggs are different sizes? We will have Karen Peterson who bakes with a lot of farm fresh products to answer these questions. We will also have some of our cottage food producers who are also farm owners to share their tips for cooking with farm fresh foods. Stay tuned for more information!

IMPORTANT & EXCITING NEWS!

  • As some of you may have already heard, the MN Cottage Food Producers Association and the MN Farmers’ Market Association have teamed up with the Food Science Lab at the U of M to apply for a Specialty Crop Block Grant. If we are approved to receive this grant we will be creating and testing cottage food recipes combined with local Minnesota grown foods. The end goal will be to create our very own cookbook of approved recipes. I am so excited! Keep your fingers crossed and send good vibes that everything works out.
  • Save the Date! We are in the beginning planning stages of our 6 Year Anniversary Party! Last July it was five years since the cottage food bill was first amended to allow us to be cottage food producers in Minnesota. We had hoped to celebrate then, but sadly we all know how that went. This year we are planning a big open house celebration right in the heart of Minnesota. It will be held on July 17th at the Gregory Park Pavilion in Brainerd. We are working out more details and will share them soon. For now please save the date and if you would like to volunteer to help in any way please email us at mncfpa@gmail.com.
  • We want to congratulate Kathy Zeman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association for being one of two nationwide recipients of the 2021 Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) Gus Schumacher Award for leadership during COVID to Minnesota farmers’ markets, and their assistance to peers around the United States. You can read the full story here: Recipient of the 2021 Farmers Market Coalition Gus Schumacher Award Congratulations Kathy!
  • Now that spring is finally on the horizon we are looking forward to outdoor vendor events. Many cottage food producers sell their delicious products at farmers’ market. We have a lot of new cottage food producers this year who may not know what is involved with becoming a farmers’ market vendor. The MFMA is holding a Farmer’s Market Vendor Training online event April 8th, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. To register and get access to the Zoom details click here: Farmers’ Market Vendor Training

If you would like to become a member of the Minnesota Registered Cottage Food Producers Association you can sign up here: MNCFPA Membership Application. Membership runs annually from January 1st to December 31st and is only $35.00.  

May we all have a safe and prosperous spring!

Bill Update & Next Steps

Yesterday, the Senate Agriculture Committee heard SF 1254/ HF 1430 for a second time and passed the bill out of committee, sending it to the Senate Tax Committee. The Senate Agriculture Committee amended the bill to restore the two-tier system and Tier I fee exemption and to index the Tier I fee exemption to the cost of inflation every 5 years. This will likely put the Tier I exemption at around $7,000 if the bill gets enacted and then it will be indexed every five years. At the hearing, the Department of Agriculture agreed to bill language allowing cottage food producers to be LLCs and other business entities and to raising the cap to $50,000. We will continue discussions with the Department and legislators about raising the cap to $78,000 because we think it is important for CFPs to earn a living wage. We are encouraged by the progress that has been made, but there is still more work to do.

Next, the Senate Tax Committee will need to decide to hear SF 1254/ HF 1430. Please continue e-mailing and calling your legislators about SF 1254/ HF 1430. Additionally, please reach out to the members of the Senate Tax Committee and share why this bill is important to you: https://www.senate.mn/committees/committee_bio.html?ls=87&cmte_id=1019. There is no guarantee that a committee will hear a bill, so it’s very important to let these committee members know you support the bill, in addition to your state senator and state representative.

We are additionally waiting to see if the House Agriculture Committee will hear the pet treat bill, SF 1610/HF 2014.

Finally, we are waiting to see if the cottage food bills will be put in the Agriculture Committee Omnibus Bills (big budget bills) or if they will move independently to the floor to be heard as standalone bills. We should know more in the coming weeks and will share information with you as soon as we know. Thank you for your support for these bills. There’s still more work for us to do, but we’re getting closer each step of the way.

It is always best if our senators and representatives hear from their own constituents. So please be sure to find who represents your district and reach out to them to support our bills. If you don’t know who represents your district you can find out here: Geographic Information Services ~ Who Represents Me?

This is great progress everyone!