Rural American Dreams, Beth’s Baking Story

Today we feature the story of a baker from a rural Kentucky community. This is Beth’s story in her own words.

“My name is Beth and I’m only twenty-three years old. I was born and raised in Henry County, Kentucky. I’m new to home baking because I’ve been baking for less than 2 years. However, I have never found something that fills my heart and let’s my mind wonder quite like being in the kitchen behind a pastry bag.

It all started about 4 years ago, at my previous job. I was lucky enough to start decorating ice cream cakes at the local Dairy Queen. Eventually with the limited restrictions of what I could make and how I could decorate, I began to practice at home. Eventually, that practice led to limited selling of my baked goods. Now there seems to be a constant need in my community of people looking for baked goods! The need is glorious and sometimes daunting. Word of mouth spreads, and I get messages from people I’ve never met saying that good friends suggested me for their party!

I love that! I’ve found my niche and people really seem to enjoy buying local. You see, being from Henry County means there is nothing around, we are an extremely rural community. We boast only having two stop lights in the ENTIRE county and driving our tractors to school. That also means there are no big box stores even local, your options for a cake are Walmart or Kroger and you have to travel to a county over to get such a limited choice. I also make specially decorated sugar cookies which you can’t find in a box store.

It never crossed my mind that my passion may be against the law. They are just cakes and cookies, right? I’ve taken food safety courses and at one time was certified through the health department because I worked at Dairy Queen. I know my way around a kitchen and a pastry bag so why is there a problem? I would be more than willing to retake the ServSafe courses and even have my home kitchen inspected. However, requiring me to have an entirely separate kitchen for my baked goods is going to put a halt to my dreams. I currently rent my home so renovating a second bedroom into a “commercial kitchen” is not an option. Buying a house with a separate kitchen space is also not an option, and even renting commercial kitchen space is not an option. There just aren’t any commercial spaces out here!

I try to stay conscious of my clients and the rural area and sometimes that means my prices need to be a little lower than you might expect. Right now, that means I make pocket change as profit but I love what I do. That also means that if I have to build separate space or rent space I’ll have to either raise prices to a point where I’ll lose half of my clients, or I’ll lose money every order.

That’s not fair to my community, people know my goods come from my kitchen and they keep coming back for more. Let’s change these laws and make it easier for home bakers to become true small business owners and help out our small communities!”

Beth, Home Baker from Henry County, Kentucky

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