Cottage Food Celebration with Slow Food Santa Cruz

Savanna Susnow, Seaside Wagon Cart[/caption] On February 24, 2013, dozens of local food lovers, passionate about making and selling homemade edibles, packed into the Multipurpose Room at the Louden Nelson Community Center in Santa Cruz for a Cottage Food Celebration presented by Slow Food Santa Cruz. The educational event gave people a chance to taste and share their input on homemade jams, dried fruits, baked goods, and more while socializing and celebrating California’s recently enacted Homemade Food Act.

The featured speakers were Christina Oatfield from the Sustainable Economics Law Center who works to research and develop resources for start-up and small-scale food businesses as well as was one of the stewards of the Homemade Food Act; Kathryn Lukas, owner and operator of Farmhouse Culture, a kraut business created and fostered locally in Santa Cruz; Tabitha Stroup, a food and wine educator with a local jam business, Friend in Cheeses Jam Co; and Cathy Carlson, Food Safety Program Manager at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

Attendees were presented with an overview the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616 or Cottage Food Law), including strengths and weaknesses of the legislation, and received lots of firsthand tips from many local experts in the growing cottage food movement. Christina Oatfield has documented over 30 states in the U.S. which currently have cottage food laws.

Savanna Susnow, one of the makers and sellers tabling their treats, started Seaside Wagon Cart and received the first Cottage Foods Class A license in Santa Cruz County. Her organic jams and dehydrated kiwi slices are nicely presented with ingredients listed and a tag proudly declaring “Made In A Home Kitchen”.

Text from a pamphlet distributed at the event:

The Speakers

Christina Oatfield
Food Policy Director, The Sustainable Economies Law Center

Christina works to research and develop resources for start-up and small-scale business as well as the hobby baker or backyard gardener seeking to supplement their income. She managed the successful grassroots campaign to enact the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), and she is currently creating a SELC food policy platform while also participating in collaborative food policy groups.

Kathryn Lukas
Owner, Farmhouse Culture

Begun in her kitchen in Santa Cruz, Kathryn built up her kraut business selling through Taylor Mountain’s CSA, a regional buying club, and the farmer’s market, getting feedback from customers and exploring new flavors. Working closely with local farmers, she has created an innovative line of krauts that reflect the flavors of California.

Tabitha Stroup
Friend In Cheeses Jam Co.

Tabitha has been private cheffing and educating with a concentration on the food and wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and has brokered and worked with over 25 local wines. Over time she found a void in the world of pairing food and wine and decided to fill that void herself. Friend in Cheeses is a simple, seasonal, local jam co. that not only loves toast but Cheeses, Charcuterie and anything else you can imagine!

Cathy Carlson
Food Safety Program Manager, CAFF

Cathy assists small and mid-sized farmers prepare their food safety plans for their farms. She has experience with food safety programs in the Salinas area, and currently operates a small farm in Watsonville.

The Cottage Food Law

The Homemade Food Act (AB 1616 or Cottage Food Law) creates a new category of food production called a cottage food operation, which, unlike other types of commercial food facilities, can be operated out of a home kitchen. The types of foods that a cottage food operation can sell are limited to “non-potentially” hazardous foods that are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria or other toxic microorganisms at room temperature. Some of these foods include: Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings (such as breads, biscuits, tortillas, and cookies); Candy; Chocolate-covered non-perishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit; Dried pasta; Dry baking mixes; Fruit pies; Granola. cereals, and trail mixes; Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter.

The Requirements

  • Register with your county health department (a small fee may be required)
  • Acquire a permit from your county health department that entails an annual inspection by a local health officer and pay the permitting fee of $200 – $400 annually
  • Attend a class and pass an exam designed by the California Department of Public Health
  • Package and label all food products as outlined by the law
  • Adhere to sanitary procedures outlined in the California Health and Safety Code

For a more detailed overview of the law and full bill, visit

The Makers & Sellers

Cherryvale Farms: Organic Baking Mix ProducerTwins Kitchen: Jams, mustards, vinegars Anna B’s Peanut Brittle: Peanut BrittleChristine’s Bakery: Inspired and wholesome creations Las Lomas Lavender and Honey: HoneySeaside Wagon Cart: Jams, Curds, Fruit Butter Peter Ruddock: Marmalade Natalie Lopes Mountain Feed: Canning supplies Friend in Cheeses: Jams, chutneys, etc. Farmhouse Culture: Sauerkraut Homegrown Specialties Marketplace: an Artisan Producers Marketplace promoting hand-crafted goods