The concerned community member was correct, I didn't go through the $1,500 process to get permitted to give away purified water for free. I didn't know at the time there was a law against giving purified water away, but in Alaska there is. I was contacted by the DEC and told if I removed the water immediately I would not be fined.
In Alaska the Cottage Food Laws are in place to help makers at home bring a small amount of product to the retail food market. The yearly sales limit is $25,000 in Alaska, all sales have to be in person (not online or mail order).
I work from our property now, 100 feet from home in a cabin/studio.
People started asking if they could buy the cultured vegetables I make a
few months ago, but I didn't want to get reported to the DEC so I have
waited to make sure I have all my ducks in a row.
I don't have a technical DEC kitchen at home or at the studio, fortunately the Cottage Food Laws allow me to make foods in home style kitchen and prep areas, which means I don't have to spend a lot of money remodeling the studio or kitchen to have a DEC approved kitchen.
Cultured Foods are considered "inherently safe" because of their pH level (below 4.6). Unfortunately kefir doesn't fall into this category because it's ingredient list usually includes dairy. Fortunately cultured vegetables DO fall under this exemption and I think I have everything done in order to be able to start selling, and not get reported to DEC. :)
The two primary costs to get started were: a $50 business license and a $12.50 pH tester (I bought two and paid $5s/h).
I had the advantage of already owning at least $1,000 in fermenting supplies (I teach classes at the studio and ferment at home).
The tough part, for me, is nailing down the prices for each product. Math and I are not friends and I am not used to being poor, so reading my receipts from the store is a new skill for me.
To Beta test it all I asked community members if anyone was interested in weekly deliveries, in a few days I had 7 customers. That's in a town of 3,000, so not too shabby!
I'll keep everyone posted as it develops further. All five of my kids are 18 and over now, my husband is a commercial fisherman (not in town often) and I really only know how to cook for a large family. If I opened a carton of eggs? They all got cooked for breakfast. A package of bacon? The entire things gets cooked. This has been a wonderful way to provide a healthy commodity to my community and find an outlet for the time I am not used to having. :)
If I dot my i's and cross my t's I might even be able to contribute to our family income during a difficult time in the commercial fishing industry.
Here is a great article on how to price premium food products made at home, to sell retail. http://gredio.com/blog/how-to-price-your-food-product-and-still-make-money/#.U-vNtYBkHkY
Food in Alaska is insanely expensive and our "fresh produce" would make a farmer throw up. I cannot WAIT until it's time to start the garden this spring!