Did you know that it’s perfectly legal in Long Beach to grow and sell home-grown produce directly to neighbors, chefs, and friends? In this post, we describe some of the background, and how to get started.
In 2015, The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services began accepting applications for the Community Food Producers license – the local adoption of the statewide bill AB1990 (The Community Food Producers Act). But on January 1st, a new statewide policy, AB 234, made it even easier to become a Community Food Producer. The new bill allowed local health departments to take a more hands-off approach where no permit would be required.
Together, the policies effectively legalize the direct sale of whole, uncut produce and eggs grown in non-agricultural spaces, like your own back-yard, as well as gleaned produce from certified farms. The system is essentially an honor system, and inspections are only required in the event of a complaint.
So, what’s needed to be a legit community food grower?
First, you need a business license. Though there is still a need for business licensing in Long Beach to create more pathways that are geared toward small-scale urban agriculture, Long Beach’s newly launched BizPort website can help you get started with the basics. If you run across barriers in getting a license, contact us and fill us in, so that we can better advocate for changes.
Next, Community Food Producers must follow the Small Farm Safety guidelines.
Long Beach Fresh also recommends soil safety awareness which can be assessed using this excellent soil safety guide.
So, what types of sales are covered in the Community Food Producer act?
Sales can include direct deliveries, pop-up stands, and sale to neighbors, chefs, and restaurants.
Egg producers must also register with California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Egg Safety and Quality Management Program, and produce no more than 15 dozen eggs per month. This certification also works in concert with Long Beach’s recently updated municipal code, which eased restrictions on residential chicken keeping.
PS: If you’re thinking of selling prepared foods, The Health Department also does require a certification for Cottage Food production, which covers the direct or indirect sale of shelf-stable food products made in a home kitchen. That application is located at LongBeach.gov. We are also working with statewide advocates like the Sustainable Economies Law Center to craft new laws that would legalize homemade hot meals to be sold, and hope to see something drafted this year!