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Take home baking to the next level, be a Cottage Foods producer

Some people just have a penchant and talent for baking. Their skillful blending of art and food chemistry results in a delightful display of edible creativity. What a unique gift for the lucky recipients.

In my childhood neighborhood, our resident baker was Connie. During the winter holidays, she would gift families with big trays of homemade cookies. Seeing the sparkling tinfoil wrapped around the tray elevated the excitement for what lies underneath.

There must have been twenty-plus different kinds of cookies on each tray, year after year! Each cookie was so beautifully decorated that even my nine-year-old self hesitated to destroy its beauty by eating it. But it was a short hesitation.

For good or bad, my kids and neighbors do not get to enjoy a reciprocation of my childhood experience. I must rely on the passion and talent of others in order for holiday cookies to make a presence in our home. I suspect I am not alone.

The dietitian in me says we don’t need a tray of holiday cookies in our home. Of course, we don’t need them – we want them. So who out there loves to bake?

A bigger question to ask, of those who love to bake, did you know you could turn your passion and skill into a business with very little upfront investment or commitment?

The Colorado Cottage Foods Act allows you to enter into a food business without the need to navigate the same regulatory systems, or make the same financial investments, as would be necessary for a retail food establishment.

To be transparent, it’s not a loophole to escape the responsibility of safe food handling. There are limitations to what you can produce under the Cottage Foods Act. And there are expectations you must follow as a producer. But, it’s an excellent way to test your potential as a small business food entrepreneur, with minimal risk.

For more

Cottage Foods Stories from Southwest Colorado: bit.ly/3HilBQx.

Local food business resources to know: Four Corners Slow Money, Small Business Development Center , La Plata Food Equity Coalition.

Next Colorado Cottage Foods training: Jan. 23.

Some of the perks of being a Cottage Foods producer that may interest you includes the following: baking from home (no need to rent space), engaging in your creative outlet when it’s convenient, making extra income, easy access into the industry and limited regulations (but you do need basic food safety training).

I can’t speak for everyone in the community, but I’m thrilled to help grow your small Cottage Foods business by supporting you as a customer! My family says I make great salads, but my cookies lack a “wow” factor. I can’t be the only one in Colorado who needs your artistic baking skills.

Not a baker, but love the idea of selling food? Baking is not the only culinary skill you can express through Cottage Foods. Also eligible are (some) dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, teas and spice blends, some canned foods, candies, honey, eggs and pickled fruits and vegetables, to name a few.

You may not have time to start up your Cottage Foods business before the 2022 holiday season, but not to worry. Summer markets are just around the corner.

Your first step is to take a Colorado Cottage Foods training through CSU Extension. Pencil in this class, there’s an online course through La Plata County Extension on Jan. 23, 2023.

There are plenty of resources to support your success. Locally, you have Four Corners Slow Money which offers no-interest loans for farmers and food business entrepreneurs, La Plata Food Equity Coalition is developing a food business guide and the Small Business Development Center provides education and resources to help improve business skills.

Happy holidays, and happy baking!

Nicole Clark is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach her at nicole.clark@colostate.edu or 382-6461.