Explore, Learn and Cook
The cottage food industry is growing rapidly across the United States and throughout many provinces in Canada (if you're a farmer). Your state’s legislation will specifically outline those “non-hazardous” food items you can produce under its “cottage food law.” A growing number of states may also have a "food freedom" or "Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation (MHKO)" law, in some cases essentially allowing food entrepreneurs to operate a restaurant out of their home.
Join the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference, held April 10 to 13, 2023, hosted by Renewing the Countryside.
The following are a few links to resources, tools or examples referenced in Homemade for Sale Second Edition that might be helpful or useful to you when becoming a "Cottage Food Operator", or CFO.
When it comes to what's possible related to cottage food laws in your state, visit Forrager.com. Their easy to follow map (a sample of which is below, courtesy of Forrager.com) and summary is a great place to start. They also offer the opportunity to connect with other CFOs and put your enterprise on the map below.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can go to one of approximately nine hundred local SBDCs for free, face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training on writing business plans, marketing and regulatory compliance.
The authoritative "U.S. Kitchen Incubators: An Industry Snapshot" by Gregory Heller
While most food entrepreneurs will start in their home kitchen, you may find the need to expand into an incubator (or shared-use) kitchen. Worth reviewing is the extensive "U.S. Kitchen Incubators: An Industry Snapshot," authored by Gregory Heller. Heller is also the CEO for American Communities Trust.
Sample Incubator (Shared-use) or Commercial Kitchen Rental Contract
If you opt to scale up or find yourself needing to rent a commercially-licensed kitchen appropriate for the food product you make, you'll need to fully understand the rental contract or agreement you'll need to sign. Here's a sample contract from Stecoah Valley Food Ventures in North Carolina as an example. Each incubator (shared-use) kitchen or commercially-licensed kitchen will have their own version and requirements.
Sample Recipes from Farmstead Chef or other sources
As a CFO, you're just a recipe away from launching your business. No family favorites or recipes passed down through generations, no problem. The following recipes could be a fun place to start experimenting to create your own version: