May marks our annual People Powered Economies membership campaign. During the month of May, we're sharing stories about how our work at the Sustainable Economies Law Center is building more just, resilient communities. If you ever wondered how your donations were making an impact or why you should become a supporter of our work, read on to see one story of how our advocacy has changed lives and enabled thousands of homemade food businesses! If you like what you read, please join us today!
For the next 24 hours, we have a $500 matching grant opportunity from a generous supporter, Brian Hicks! All donations made TODAY (5/16) will be matched up to $500. Give now to double your impact and help us reach our $60,000 goal!
Maureen Foley of Red Hen Cannery
Maureen Foley is from a long lineage of farmers. Her family has been farming in California since the 1860s, and she grew up on the family farm in Carpinteria, helping her dad sell cherimoyas and avocados at the local farmers’ markets. After working as a food & farm educator, Maureen came back to the family farm in 2012 and took a second look at what possibilities were waiting for her at home.
Though her food education work, she had heard of the passage of the California Homemade Food Act (also known as the Cottage Food Law) and went to work making jam and marmalade in her home kitchen. “Both my grandmother and mother would make jam from the leftover farm fruit. Starting a jam business in my kitchen made sense because I had a baby daughter at home, and a good understanding of the customers at the farmers’ markets,” said Maureen.
Since then, her business, Red Hen Cannery, has grown out of her home kitchen and the business sells thousands of jars of jams and marmalades every year. Their popular Heirloom Tomato Spice Jam just won the national Good Food Award, and she’s currently in the beginning stages of building out her own commercial kitchen. She shared that it all began with the passing of the California Homemade Food Act.
"I don't think I've ever experienced one state law having such a direct positive impact on my life. The cottage food law started my business and it completely transformed my world. As a farmer, I can see the effects all around me. Every other stall in the Santa Barbara farmers market, someone is selling a cottage food product,” said Maureen.
Maureen's Award-winning Jam
Maureen spoke of how this law had ripple effects throughout her life, and cites this experience as one of the reasons she was recently elected to her local school board.
“Seeing the impact that this one law had in my life, it sparked a desire in me to get involved in political office – something I’d never considered before.”
Red Hen Cannery is one of the thousands of small businesses that have utilized the California Homemade Food Act since our center helped craft the law and pass it in 2012. We’re proud that our policy advocacy work enables entrepreneurs like Maureen to start and grow small businesses, and inspires them to become involved in policymaking in their own communities.
We’re continuing to advocate for high-impact laws that strengthen our local economies and improve our food system, and we need your help!