There are so many ways to make money on the homestead, which is great, because so many homesteaders are striving to be independent and off the grid, not tied down to the “rat race” in any way. One of the most common is through “Cottage Laws,” which enables the sales of homemade food goods.
While Cottage Laws can greatly differ from State to State, they basically are laws allowing people to sell home baked goods, canned goods, pickled goods, dried goods, among other things. Knowing what your home State allows is your first step in the process. Whether you’re only looking to do a one time sale or start a small business, the Cottage Laws will point you in the right direction. Not all States call them “cottage laws,” but most will have similar laws. Not all States have any sort of cottage laws, which is a great thing for those of you in those States to write to your local politicians about!
Where to Sell
After you’ve established what to sell, your next step will be where to sell. Not only will your State have laws covering what you can sell, but some cities will have stricter, differing laws as well. For us here in Alaska, the hubby and I can make and sell our Happy Bison Grillin’ Sauce at home and sell it, but if we want to sell it within the Municipality of Anchorage, we’d have to make it in a commercial kitchen.
Knowing these rules will help you find the Farmer’s Markets, holiday bazaars, or special festivals and events that are perfect for you. I found a local “Alaskan Vendors” Facebook group that posted upcoming holiday bazaars and events, which made life much easier when it came to signing up for shows. Don’t be afraid to set up your own “Farm Stand” out front of your house too. I sold seedlings this last spring and did pretty well and got to chat with quite a few of our neighbors too. My neighbors all know that we’re the go to folks for fresh, local chicken eggs too.
The Cottage Laws will also tell you the regulations for correctly labeling your food. While most States don’t require a full nutrition label, you may have to have something stating that it is not subject to State inspection or not made in a commercial kitchen. It took some digging, but I finally found the rules on “organic” labeling. If you’re selling less than $5000 worth of goods per year, you may label your food as “organic,” if, of course, it is made with completely organic products. Once you breach that $5000 mark however, you’ll have a whole new set of rules for organic labeling.
Not a big baker? Read more of my ideas for making money on the homestead here!
Find Your State’s Cottage Laws
New Jersey (New Jersey does not yet have cottage laws, but there are lots of people fighting for them! Read the article here.)
Rhode Island (RI doesn’t really have cottage laws, but they do have some special rules for farmers that might work for you.)
Wisconsin (Wisconsin is another State with restrictive cottage laws. While they do allow the sale of safe canned goods, they do not allow the sale of home baked goods.)