Sanford City Council will explore the adoption of an ordinance that would allow some farm-to-consumer sales of foods like jams and pickles, cheese, yogurt and more. A local ordinance would mean the producers would not be required to obtain a state license. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD — Sanford is considering  joining some other Maine communities — the latest of which is Augusta — and adopting a food sovereignty ordinance.

If it does so, it would mean a farmer who makes pickles, jam or cheese, or seafood-related products in their home kitchen could sell it to someone who comes knocking on their door.

With those face-to-face transactions, the home kitchen would not need to be licensed by the state — hence the term sovereign.

The City Council’s zoning subcommittee will explore the pros and cons of adopting a food sovereignty ordinance on Tuesday, when it meets at 1 p.m. in the City Manager’s conference room on the third floor of City Hall at 919 Main St. The meetings are open to the public. Any recommendations from the subcommittee would have to be developed into an ordinance and voted on by the City Council following public hearings.

The prospect was introduced by Councilor Robert Stackpole during a council meeting on Tuesday.

“My motivation is entrepreneurship,” said Stackpole. “Start a small business at home that could grow.”

The Maine Legislature approved a food sovereignty law that went into effect on Nov. 1, 2017, that allows municipalities to adopt their own ordinances. Since then, about 45 communities, the latest of which is Augusta, have adopted the laws, according to a Nov. 16 Kennebec Journal report by staff writer Keith Edwards.

In nearby Lebanon, voters adopted a food sovereignty ordinance by a 2 to 1 margin at their June Town Meeting after Jordan Pike, who owns Two Toad Farm with his girlfriend, Marybeth Stocking, approached the town about adopting a local measure.

So far, said Pike on Friday, the couple hasn’t been able to take full advantage of the local ordinance, but they are selling Marybeth’s yogurts and cheeses from the farm to local consumers.

“We approached the town so that we could strengthen the local food economy from the bottom up,” said Pike. “Neighbors producing foods for neighbors is a good economy. We’re all dependent on each other, and the money stays within the community. It really makes a lot of sense.”

Laura Young, who owns  Our Farm in Springvale with Aron Gonsalves, said a local food sovereignty ordinance could help small producers. She pointed out that not all small farmers have the capability to “jump through all of the hoops” required for a state food processor’s license, which would not be required under a local farm-to-consumer food sovereignty ordinance.

“I have mixed feelings, but if it helps a small producer have a value-added product, less waste or be more creative, I’m all for it,” said Young. “Food safety is paramount; know your farmer.”

Under the state statute, products that can be sold through food sovereign, producer-to-consumer transactions include milk or milk products, fish or fish products, seafood or seafood products, cider or juice, acidified foods, and canned fruits or vegetables.

A food sovereignty ordinance would not apply to farmer’s markets; transactions must be face-to-face, involving food or food products at the site of production.

As well, meat and poultry are exempt from the food sovereignty law, which means inspection regulations continue to apply.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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