On January 1, 2013, small-scale history was made when the Homemade Food Act went into effect in California, easing regulations on “non-potentially hazardous” homemade foods and making it legal for cottage producers to sell their goodies to the public. (Germophobes/hypochondriacs/hall-monitor types need not freak out: Kitchens do require permits — and thus, inspections — and producers must attend a food-processing course.) The act is a boon to artisans and entrepreneurs for whom the prospect of finding commercial kitchen space was logistically or financially prohibitive, as well as a score for people hungry for locally made foods that taste like home.
Also on that day, Cat Moss made a little history of her own, establishing the Local Artisans Market as the first weekly cottage food fair in the state. Moss had been a mildly frustrated cottage baker and canner: Though she had commercial kitchen space, she was having no luck getting stores to carry her goods, and she’d been shut out of the S.B. Farmers Market (and is a plaintiff in the current lawsuit alleging that local, organic producers are excluded when new spots become available and that the wait lists are nontransparent and decisions inconsistent). Since last fall when she learned the law would take effect, Moss has worked with the Health Department (take that, hall monitor!) to get the markets up and running, and Santa Barbara’s first will take place this Friday, March 1, at La Cumbre Plaza, which will host the market every week. (Last Saturday, the market held its first Goleta event at the Goleta Valley Community Center; it is currently working to establish a permanent location, whether at the Community Center or elsewhere, in Goleta. Moss also hopes to establish regular North County and South County markets.)
The Friday afternoon/evening markets will transform the mall into a cottage-food wonderland, with vendors set up inside La Cumbre’s open-air breezeway and food trucks in the Macy’s parking lot (along with live music and — someone’s thinking! — chairs). Moss has lined up more than 20 artisans of all stripes, though she’s hoping it will grow to comprise anywhere from 75-100. Vendors will sell everything from nuts and sorbets to beef jerky and coffee. Nimita’s Cuisine will offer dinner kits, Amber will sell Paleo desserts (caveman want a … cookie?), and Palmera will offer massage oils for pets (don’t tell my dog, please; she’s so demanding as it is). And Moss will finally have a place to sell her super-healthy Gleeka baked goods and Duchess of Wellington jams.
“We’re just really excited about the market and vendors and bonding with the community, and like eight new business have been created and probably at least a dozen new jobs,” Moss said. “We’re just really excited on so many levels!”
And there’s nothing small about that.
The weekly Local Artisans Market starts this Friday, March 1, at La Cumbre Plaza Center Courtyard (121 S. Hope Ave.), 3-7 p.m. For more info, visit localartisansmarket.com.