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Recent legislation expands opportunities for farm stand sales
"It is the intent of the state to promote the consumption of California-grown produce"- California Food and Agriculture Code
Kitty Dolcini opened her Hicks Valley farm stand last year so she could sell her strawberries directly to customers. Since fresh berries have a very short shelf life, carrying them straight from the field, down the driveway to her small farm stand, ensures that they are their very best. Berries not sold on day one are offered at a reduced rate the next day for making jam or pies.
Kitty and her brother Doug own the family ranch in Hicks Valley, where they grew up with cattle and horses. After the Dolcinis rented part of their ranch to organic farmer David Retsky, Kitty said she "just wanted to learn more about farming" and started growing strawberries.
Kitty likes the extra income that she earns from her farm stand, where she also sells fresh vegetables for David. However, she described the greatest reward as "the feeling at the end of the day when you've worked outside and you're so tired that when you lie down in bed, you just think how good you feel and fall asleep so easily." Her customers love the stand, too. "Customers always thank you for being out here," Kitty noted.
With the recent passage of AB 2168, Kitty and other California farm stand operators may now sell processed agricultural products, such as jams, preserves, pickles, juices, cured olives and other "value-added" products made with ingredients produced on or near the farm, without having to meet all of the "retail food facility" standards as defined by California Retail Food Code. Before this legislation came into effect, only fresh produce and shell eggs could be sold at such stands, unless the farmer could meet the same standards to which grocery stores are subject.
This legislation expands direct sales opportunities for farmers, but the best thing about farm stands will always be offering the best, freshest produce right off the farm and right from the farmer. - Lisa Bush