by Nat Stein
City Council legalized farm stands in Colorado Springs this week after a near-unanimous vote. The only dissenter was Helen Collins of District 4, who described the ordinance designed to bring the city up to speed with state law as “a waste of time.” Luckily for local food advocates, her opposition didn’t waste much time holding up the otherwise uncontroversial measure aimed at empowering citizens to sell veggies and other homemade food items from their own yards.
Councilor Jill Gaebler brought the ordinance to her colleagues at the recommendation of the Food Policy Advisory Board — a year-old city/county board convened to study local food sovereignty in a region that trucks in close to all the food it eats from out of state. This measure, nearly identical to one Denver passed in 2014, was the board’s top priority because of how simple and rewarding it may be for the community.
The ordinance expands the home occupation permit to include cottage foods — a category defined by a 2012 state law that gave people the right to produce and sell certain non-perishable homemade foods without a commercial license. It includes canned and pickled veggies, jams, jellies, honey, breads, teas and all sorts of other goodies that pretty much won’t get you sick if you’re equipped with eyes, a nose and a brain.
The fine print contains some details that all would-be farm standers should know: get permitted through the planning department for a one time fee of $60; to sell from a farm stand, take the food safety course offered through the El Paso County Health Department; only set up your stand between dawn and dusk from April to November; don’t block traffic; be kind to your neighbors.
Councilor Gaebler heralded the measure as a victory for not only personal liberty and private property rights, but for good old-fashioned, neighbor-to-neighbor community building.
We’ll say cheers with some homegrown tea to that!