Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Law Opens Door to Cottage Food Operations

February 5, 2012

Maybe you’ve heard the buzz. In the farming community, it’s been hotly anticipated for months: a proposed law would allow home producers to make low-risk foods like jam, pickles, bread, and baked goods from their home kitchens to sell at farmers’ markets and other direct-selling venues.

It passed!

The Cottage Food Operations Law, or Senate Bill 5748, was signed into law by Governor Gregoire on July 22, 2011. Let me break it down for you in plain English, (though make sure you read the entire document yourself if you wish to begin selling anything) it states that food processors may operate from a home kitchen and directly sell to customers up to $15,000 in gross sales per year with all the proper license and inspection of course.
Welcome to the market- Photo Credit Photography by Lindsey

This is a game-changer for Washington State farmers’ markets.

By eliminating the need for newcomers to find or build a commercial kitchen for all of their processing, the state has given a major boost to the diversity of farmers’ market vendors, and opened a new avenue for families to supplement their income with ingenuity and a little spare time. But don’t roll your sleeves up and get to dough-kneading just yet; unfortunately, the law is still in the rule-making process. A representative at the Department of Agriculture told us Friday that, in all likelihood, it will be two to three months before the applications for cottage food processors will be made available. A public hearing must take place, administrative details must be put in order, and specifications to exactly which foods fall under the category of “low-risk” must be defined. Then, once cottage processors can apply, the department expects a flood of applications, and the waiting period for approval may be as long as two additional months. (However, possibly just in time for the opening weekend of the Arlington Farmers' Market July 7th 2012!)

Given that we are currently in the off-season for most farmers’ markets though, now is the perfect time to strategize while you wait. If you’ve dreamed of selling artisan bread, take the next few months to come up with a stellar business name, stock up on stoneware bread pans, and determine your pricing. If you’re a pie champion, spend the waiting period making cute, hand-lettered signs for all of your different flavors and perfecting new recipes. And for goodness sake don't forget to contact your local farmers market managers to request pricing and applications!

Mom's Pantry, Raspberry Chocolate Sauce- Photo Credit Arlington Farmers Market

Ultimately, we at the AFM believe this law will turn a lot of employees into entrepreneurs. The season of 2012 will see lots of part-time market vendors who are testing the waters out, thanks to the lowered regulation. Many of those part-timers will find that they are successful and want to outsell the $15,000 cap, thereby taking the jump from cottage processor to full-time processor—a smaller leap of faith than it would be to quit your day-job, build or lease a commercial kitchen, and hope to hell that someone buys your jam :-)

Details on license cost, public hearing notification, and the current scope of “low-risk” can be found on the website for the WA Dept of Agriculture:

And, of course, we will keep our ear to the ground and bring you news as soon as it develops. Subscribe to our blog or like us on Facebook to get the latest Arlington Farmers’ Market news delivered to your email so you won’t miss a beat!

First Annual Handmade Holiday (A look back)

December 3, 2011;

Handmade Holiday was a blast! Not just your average "oh that was a blast" blast. A knock your socks off, best holiday shopping day ever, mixed with the irresistible cheer of a real hometown event blast!

As I said, our 1st annual local gift market for the holidays last week was a great success! If you didn’t get a chance to make it this year, here’s a look at all the festivities:

Urban Farm Naturals Soap- Photo by

Upstairs, crafters, soap-makers, jammers, and gift wrappers had a holly jolly time in the glow of an enormous tree sponsored and decorated by Bella Bungalow, a new darling downtown Arlington business.
Handmade ornaments and holiday décor were at almost every table, giving shoppers the chance to pick something special for their tree, along with the warm connection of meeting the person whose hands had lovingly crafted it.
Amazing ornaments by Lisa Reinsma's little elves- Photo

Artisan craftsmanship was everywhere: in the sumptuous quality of handmade soap, meticulous skill of hand-painted art, and careful construction of hand-sewn lovelies.
A wrapping station was manned by members and volunteers of Marysville YMCA. At 2pm, we cut the house music and the YMCA children’s choir performed carols, gathering a smiling crowd of shoppers and vendors!
Garden Treasures produce- Photo

 Downstairs, lunch made from organic ingredients from Arlington’s Garden Treasures Farm and a spread of delicious cookies were on sale from Guilt Free Goodness, a gluten-free bakery based in Monroe, along with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. 
While shoppers munched on their goodies, they perused the downstairs vendors with their fresh wreaths, unique home décor, gorgeous pottery, and handsome woodwork. 
Audrey and Samantha with Santa- Photo Arlington Farmers Market

Highlights of the day included a visit from Santa, two enormous raffle baskets stuffed full of goodies from the Handmade Holiday vendors, and a Christmas parade on Olympic Avenue, just two blocks down, presented by the city of Arlington.

Two blogs shared their own take on this event; you can check them out here:
A complete vendor list, along with links to each vendor’s website, can be found below this post.

Santa Shopping at Aldrich Farms- Photo Arlington Farmers Market

The experience of sharing an indoor market with all of our wonderful Handmade Holiday vendors was something really special for us on the Arlington Farmers’ Market staff. Thank you to everyone who participated!

We wish you all a wonderful holiday, from our families to yours. :)

Audrey, Samantha & the farmers’ market crew

Complete Vendor list:

Anne Francis
Brad Butter Photography
Bush’s Nursery
Joie de Vivre
Lisa Reinsma
Martha Woods
Persis Gayle
Robin Miller

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Welcome to the Arlington Farmers' Market!

Welcome to the new Arlington Farmers' Market blog. Here you will find current information about the market as well as other local community events. Please join us Saturdays in Legion Park (200 North Olympic, Arlington 9823) from 10:00am to 3:00pm during the summer for our regular season and check back often for special events hosted by the market.