True love of growing into a business

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By Judy Hetterman

Are you a Kentucky farmer or home gardener who grows your own fruits, vegetables, nuts or herbs and would like to sell you jams, jellies, pickles, baked goods and other home-processed products at local farmers markets?
If so, the home-based processing and microprocessing program offers a way for you to do just that.
In 2003, KY. House Bill 391 was signed into law. It allows Kentucky farmers and gardeners to sell certain home-processed products made with Kentucky-grown fruits, vegetables, nuts or herbs that were grown, harvested and processed by the farmer. Products may be sold only from approved farmers markets, certified roadside stands or the processor’s farm. The use of home-grown eggs or dairy products is not allowed.
There are two categories under the law, home-based processor and home-based microprocessor.
Home-based processors may produce and sell any of the following lower-risk products:
• Fruit jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters, maple syrup and sorghum.
• Baked goods that contain a fruit, vegetable, nut or herb grown by the processor
• Dried fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs
• Cut fruits and vegetables
• Prepackaged mixed greens
There is no fee associated with becoming a home-based processor, but you must register each year with the Kentucky Food Safety Branch and follow labeling rules.
Home-based microprocessors may produce and sell higher-risk products such as:
• Pickled fruits and vegetables
• Tomatoes and tomato products
• Salsa
• Barbecue sauce
• Pepper or herb jellies
• Herbal vinegars
• Low-or no-sugar jams and jellies
• Pressure-canned vegetables
Refrigerated products, such as fresh salsa, refrigerator pickles, pesto and products stored in oil are not allowed.
The first step toward becoming a home-based microprocessor is to attend a University of Kentucky home-based microprocessor workshop.
Workshops are scheduled throughout the year at local county extension offices and cost $50. The next step is to have recipes for all products approved by the University of Kentucky, at a cost of $5 per recipe. Finally, an application for HBM certification and draft labels for all products are filed with the Kentucky Food Safety Branch. The annual fee for HBM certification is $50. Both programs require verification of an approved water source.
If you would like more information about the programs, contact Debbie Clouthier at (859) 257-1812.