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Upcoming workshop to focus on starting, maintaining small food business

People who have a passion for making food items from scratch and selling the product may want to attend an upcoming workshop courtesy of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

The agency is hosting the workshop for those interested in starting a food business in Nevada.

The two-day event is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20-21, at the NyE Communities Coalition campus at 1020 East Wilson Road, room 32.

Thursday’s workshop is scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by Friday’s 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. The group will break from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday.

Extension educator Holly Gatske, who is overseeing the event, said the workshop is not about opening a restaurant within the community.

“It’s more about a workshop demonstrating how to create processed foods, and we are focusing on the easy things to get started in that industry,” she said. “If somebody has a real passion for creating food, wanting to sell it to the public and getting started on that path, this is exactly what this workshop is for.”

Gatske also said that with the recent passage of the cottage food and craft food laws, producing food products for sale is now easier than ever.

She noted that the class will help people understand the laws, as well as provide an overall understanding of how to run a business and what to consider when making and packaging food for sale.

“It’s about everything from cottage foods to craft foods and beyond,” she said.

Additionally, Gatske said Pahrump is one of the hottest spots in the state for cottage food licensing, as the agency wants to keep building on people who have already started the first step of doing cottage foods.

“There is much interest in local foods in Pahrump and the market is there now more than it ever has been,” she said. “I don’t know if I would call it lucrative, but it’s like any small start-up business. If you don’t run it well, you won’t usually do well. We see this as a real opportunity for people to create their own food businesses, and those laws allow them to produce food out of their homes, which is the first step of the workshop.”

Among some of the topics of the workshop are creating homemade jams and jellies, bread making, along with candies.

If attendees want to go beyond those areas, the workshop will also focus on the methods of creating some simple foods just to get started in the business.

“Opening up a food business is usually a struggle unless you have plans laid out and you know what to take on,” she said. “That’s why we want to come in and do this workshop because we do think it can be a successful business if it’s done right.”

While not necessarily a lucrative venture, Gatske said the endeavor could provide additional income for the vendor.

“We want to help people who are interested in a sideline-type income,” she said. “More importantly, we would love to see more local foods in Nevada where people are building real businesses that are sustainable. That’s why we want to do these workshops because we want to help people to have the ability to build that.”

Regarding the apparent popularity of cottage and craft foods, Gatske said local consumers seem to prefer food items that are naturally made.

“I think the allure is when things are made by hand, they tend to be higher quality and tend to taste better,” she said. “Most consumers are really interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it was made. I think it is a combination of a much higher quality product and in a lot of cases if you’re taking produce right out of your garden or field and processing it, the product tends to be a higher quality product as opposed to products in the store that have traveled here and have aged.”

Gatske also said she urges those interested in the workshop to attend both days, if possible, but it’s not required.

“It would be best to make both days because we build all of the components to starting off a food business,” she said. “We do recognize that sometimes people have jobs and other responsibilities where they can’t attend the full two days. If they must come and go, then we certainly recognize that. We will also have workshop materials available. We will also work with them to try to fill those gaps if necessary. Those who attend both days will get a lot more out of it.”

Those who are interested in attending can register for the workshop.

“I will take registrations right up until the day of the workshop because I want to make sure that I have enough materials for people on site,” she said. “They can call me at 775-962-1300.”

Gatske can also be reached at gatzkeh@unce.unr.edu.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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