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Backyard farmers get support from Denver's new cottage foods code

The Colorado Convention Center's Blue Bear Farm.

Denver's residents can now sell produce and goods thanks to the city's recently passed cottage foods code.

"This change will work to increase healthy food options for families and add new opportunities for supplemental earnings that can make a real difference in the economic and physical health of lower income residents," says Mayor Michael Hancock. "I want to recognize the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council for recommending this policy change and I want to thank Councilmembers Robin Kniech, Susan Shepherd and Albus Brooks for leading the passage of this ordinance."

Under the text amendment, which went into effect July 18, residents in Denver can obtain a permit to sell their homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. They can also sell their chicken or duck eggs and unrefrigerated cottage foods like spices, teas, honey, jams, and certain baked goods. All products that they can sell are defined in the Colorado Cottage Food Act.

"The permit costs $20 and does not have to be renewed annually," says Andrea Burns of the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development. "It goes with the property so would only need to be replaced if the property changes ownership."

Under the new provision, residents will have to obtain a "home occupation" zoning permit, the city says. If a resident plans to sell cottage foods, they also have to complete a food safety course.   

"Denver has always been known as a city that appreciates farm-to-table and using fresh produce and locally sourced foods, but this new law creates a whole new level of urban farming that will allow the city to become one big farmer's market," says Visit Denver CEO Richard Scharf.

Scharf adds that many restaurants in and around Denver are already growing their own foods, like the Colorado Convention Center. The Blue Bear Farm is now growing 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and spices used in its kitchens.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Chris Meehan.

Chris is a Denver-based freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. He covers sustainability, social issues and other topics.
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