Home-brewed kombucha, avocado chocolate truffles, handmade organic soy candles, vegan sushi, hair wraps, raw lemon bars…these are only a taste of the wide variety of yummy food and creative crafts found at the Isla Vista Artisan Fair, brought to you by UCSB’s own students and community members.
The Isla Vista Artisan Fair is a bi-weekly event that provides a public space for talented local foodies, crafters and artists to sell their goods to the public. This event aims to foster community spirit, showcase creativity and allow aspiring future artisans to develop their ideas and business skills.
I interviewed the founder of this relatively new event, Hanna Mendoza, a third year global studies major and a member of the entrepreneurship program at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Hanna has always been a lover of good food, and the inspiration for creating the Artisan Fair came from her desire to share her passion with others. She lives in a house where there is a real focus on making tasty, healthy homemade food, and sharing that food with each other. Hanna wanted to bring that communal attitude to as many people as she could, bringing the Isla Vista community together over a shared love of food.
This dream didn’t become a reality until a newspaper article on the Cottage Food Law (covered in a March 2013 LoaTree article) caught Hanna’s eye. This law allows you to legally sell food that’s made in your own home after you acquire a license. Each individual vendor has to apply for a permit through the county, and then once they have their permit, they’re legally allowed to sell their product on a one-to-one basis. The process can be completed online, only takes a matter of minutes, and is free!
Hanna saw the Cottage Food Law as the perfect opportunity. She already knew a number of people that made amazing food, so she got in contact with all of them and pitched the idea of making a legitimate event that everyone in Isla Vista could enjoy. “Hopefully it will grow and grow and grow, and become something that brings people together and immerses the community in some way through food,” said Hanna. “Food is the best way to do something like this.”
Hanna hopes to permanently establish the Isla Vista Artisan Fair as a bi-weekly event held at the Isla Vista Food Co-op. She believes the co-op is the best location for the fair as it has a lot of foot traffic, and she loves bringing business into the co-op, developing a sort of symbiosis between them.
Hanna’s ultimate vision for the fair is to get the entire community involved, not just UCSB students. She would love to see it become an event where students, professors, families, and the local Hispanic community all attend. “I would love it to be something that eventually has enough notoriety that it will draw different kinds of people and help us see our community as more diverse than just the people you pass on the bike path every day,” said Hanna. “That would make me really, really happy.”
The Isla Vista Artisan Fair not only fosters community building, but it also promotes economic sustainability for vendors because it gives them another source of revenue through doing something that they love and through being creative. Most of the vendors are also very environmentally conscious, using organic produce that comes from the co-op or other local places.
If you like good food and supporting your local community, then the Isla Vista Artisan Fair is the place for you. If you want to get in on the action, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Isla Vista Artisan Fair Facebook page to stay updated on future events. The final Artisan Fair of the quarter will be held this Friday, June 7, from 1-5 PM at the Isla Vista Food Co-op, so be sure to stop by!
Written by Laura Ingulsrud. Laura is a LoaTree intern, assisting with content creation and communication, including researching and writing new stories for the LoaTree blog, working on social media, and researching best practices for communication strategy.
Photographs by Alex Hoffman (Hoffoto.com).