Turning food into money

They’re all over Asheville and parts hereabout: cans and jars and packages of homemade foodstuffs created for sale by locals. Most likely you’ve seen such items. Perhaps you’ve even purchased them on occasion. If so, chances are that at some point you’ve told yourself something like: “Dang, my homemade jelly tastes better than this $10 jar of gelatinous swill.”

Well, if you’re serious but lack the business acumen to get a food business off the ground, a new series of classes at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College might be able to help, says Jill Sparks, assistant director of A-B Tech’s Small Business Center and Business Incubator.

The classes have been offered before, but this is the first time they have been packaged as a series, culminating with a taste test and product evaluation by an expert panel culled from the business center and Blue Ridge Food Ventures. And the classes offer students a networking opportunity as well since instructors include such established foodies as BRFV director Mary Lou Surgi and Greenlife Grocery co-owner John Swann.

The series of five classes will be held jointly by the business center and BRFV. The first four will focus on the basics, and will be held on Thursday evenings from Sept. 6 through Oct. 4, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.—except for Sept. 20, when the class will meet from 9 a.m. to noon. Here’s the lineup:
• Sept. 6: Food Industry Overview
• Sept. 13: Food Industry Compliance and Legal Issues
• Sept. 20: Branding Your Food Product
• Sept. 27: Packaging and Labeling Your Food Product
• Oct. 4: Final Exam Taste Test

For the final exam, those who have attended the previous four classes will bring their food product to be tasted by the panel for comment and for evaluation of the packaging as well.

Pre-registration is required, and students will not be able to pay at the door. For more information and to register, visit www.abtech.edu/sbc/class_schedule.asp or call Sparks at 254-1921, ext. 5849.

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