Ottawa mom set to sell homegrown produce as law changes following suit

OTTAWA, Kan. (WIBW) – A single mom from Ottawa is now all set to sell her own homegrown produce and home-raised honey at the farmer’s market as the city has finally changed its law banning the practice following a recent lawsuit.

The Kansas Policy Institute says that Ellen Finnerty, 52, of Ottawa, will now be able to successfully run her dream business – selling homegrown produce and home-raised honey at the local farmer’s market. The new allowance comes four months after Finnerty teamed up with the Kansas Justice Institute to file a suit.

KPI noted that the suit challenged the City of Ottawa’s unconstitutional ban on home-based businesses at the local farmer’s market.

“What a great victory, not only for me, but for everyone who wants to live a natural, healthy life, and earn an honest living from it,” Finnerty said. “After the city told me no, I’m so thankful for Kansas Justice Institute. I could not have done this without them,” Finnerty said.

In May 2023, Kansas Policy said Finnerty filed the suit to challenge the ban on home-based businesses which prohibited the sale of homegrown produce and home-raised honey at the local farmer’s market. City leaders changed the laws to permit home businesses to sell their produce and honey at the farmers’ market.

“We’re incredibly pleased the city changed its laws so Ms. Finnerty can start her dream business,” KJI litigation director Sam MacRoberts said. “The city correctly recognized that it shouldn’t be a crime to use your own backyard to produce homegrown vegetables and home-raised honey. People have gardened and safely raised honey for thousands of years, and the city, to its great credit, understood there wasn’t a good reason to prevent Ellen from starting her home-based business. We’re thrilled that Ellen can start her dream business,” MacRoberts stated. “We hope the city changes all of its home-based business laws to make it easier to earn an honest living,” MacRoberts said.

KPI said Finnerty is a single mom who works full-time as a machine operator. To help support her family, she wanted the chance to sell homegrown produce and home-raised honey at the local farmer’s market. Now, she can.

“Ellen didn’t sue the city for money. She was fighting to protect everyone’s rights under the Kansas Constitution—the right to earn an honest living and to be able to use your own backyard for a safe and peaceful purpose,” MacRoberts said. “This is an important victory in Ottawa, but our work isn’t done. Cities throughout the state continue to improperly, and unconstitutionally, restrict home-based businesses.”

The Institute noted that Finnerty was represented at no cost to sue the city to vindicate her rights and the rights of all Kansans from unreasonable government regulations.