Local Artisans Market – Building California’s First Cottage Food Fair

A new artisan market on California’s Central Coast is giving small businesses a reason to work from home. Approved January 1, 2013, the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616) was approved by the California state legislature enabling local artisans to create and sell a variety of items from their home kitchen. The new law has allowed space for the creation of new enterprises. The Local Artisans Market in Santa Barbara is a direct response to the law and is the first of its kind in California.

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Local Artisan Market Founder, Cat Moss

“Once the Food Bill was enacted January 1st, I was at the Health Department the next day,” said Cat Moss, market founder and local artisan. “We wanted to be the first in California. We hope it catches on – it is such a harmonious venture for everyone.”

Bringing consumers a variety of health and specialty foods, the new Local Artisans Market hopes to celebrate all that Santa Barbara has to offer. The array of food items will come from farmers, food artisans, cottage food operators and food trucks, and will also include a variety of crafts by local artists.

Moss grew up on her family’s Glen Annie fruit orchard, where she soon discovered her love of canning and preserving. Since the 1980’s, she has been involved in the family business, creating organic and low-glycemic jams & marmalades under the name Duchess of Wellington.

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Duchess of Wellington Jams and Marmalades

“It feels great to now have a venue to sell our products. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this moment,” said Moss. “We can open up a retail store for four hours, sell our wares, close up shop and then come back the next week.”

For many participating vendors, the Local Artisans Market will offer a great opportunity to sell items unavailable for purchase at certified farmers markets or wholesale outlets. The new food law allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to experiment while they grow their business, without the need for expensive commercial kitchens or indirect distribution.

“The new law will allow artisans to start in their homes and be creative,” said Moss. “They can start slow, which is how it should be. If you throw all your money into a commercial facility, chances are really slim that you can survive.”

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Green Girls seasonal canned preserves

The markets will differ based on the personalities of each location, each with their own unique flavors and vendors. An avid baker herself, Moss created a new line of gluten and allergy-free goods after developing her own food allergies. Gleeka, the name of Moss’ baking company, features vegan brownies, Belgian waffles, and even hokey pokey (honeycomb candy) and will be available at the market.

“I love food…I’m used to being in the kitchen,” said Moss. “When I developed allergies to egg whites, wheat, and almonds, I knew I had to get creative with my products. Gleeka is the Greek word for ‘sweet,’ and sweet they are!”

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Santa Barbara Sourdough

Other featured artisan vendors will include Santa Barbara Sourdough clay-baked breads, Palmera massage oils and candles, Green Girls seasonal canned preserves, and select ‘paleo’ diet desserts by Amber Mendez, a current SBCC Culinary Arts student.

“This is a perfect way for people to start a business or think about it, “ said Moss. “It’s a four-hour storefront, your customers come to you, you get to know them, and you build personal relationships with them. I cannot think of a better venue for my products.”

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Paleo Treats – Eveyln Rea, Samantha Mendez, and SBCC Culinary Student Amber Mendez

Other popular local purveyors such as Green Star Coffee, Recipes Bakery, Sugar & Salt Creamery, Nimita’s Cuisine, and Zaca Ranch Cattle Company will be in attendance. Food trucks and music will also make appearances in the upcoming weeks.

“I hope that the Local Artisans Market becomes a standard for the state, something that other cities can take on,” said Moss. “This is in people’s hearts. The vendors have such a passion for what they’re making. They are true artisans.”

The Local Artisan Market will be held Fridays at La Cumbre Plaza Courtyard, from 3-7pm, and Saturdays at Goleta Valley Community Center, from 10am-2pm. Details and vendor applications can be found at www.localartisansmarket.com

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By Rachel Hommel, LoaTree. Photos by Rachel Hommel. 

Rachel is LoaTree’s food writer and researcher. When not rallying for fair food, Rachel can be spotted at the local farmer’s market, practicing yoga, and dancing to the beat of life.


5 Responses

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    Thanks for the write-up on this, Rachel. I’ve been thinking recently about giving Live Hives Bee Balms a try there at the Goleta gathering . . .

  2. Avatar
    Rachel Hommel

    Thanks Marah! Looking forward to those recipes for your great products!

    and Thrifty – definitely should connect with Cat Moss, the coordinator. The vendor application is on their website.

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