Healthy Harvest of North Iowa (HHNI) interviewed fifty local businesses and organizations about local food and agriculture needs. We heard interest from small farms to increase profitability, improve sustainability by reducing waste of potentially viable product, and identified lack of value-added production space. We heard buyer demand for increased availability of locally-produced value-added products. The result: we need to create a shared-use kitchen incubator in North Iowa.
We will develop the physical space for "The Kitchen" to address the barrier around individually financing appropriately-scaled and licensed kitchen space incurred by businesses looking to add, or expand, value-added production. The site will feature commercial-grade equipment, storage space, and a flexible layout that will allow for production. hosting of networking and educational programming to support business incubation efforts, and community education around local food access and consumption to increase consumer knowledge of the product offerings within North Iowa. Our project will target farmers of all types, but primarily produce, herbs, grains, and dry goods.
Our impact will be to increase production and profitability for local value-added products, strengthen buyer interest and access to locally produced foods, and decrease in on-farm food waste in North Iowa.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Objective 1: Design layout for The Kitchen by December 2022. Partners will work with Iowa State University to create a layout for The Kitchen and confirm all necessary equipment.
- Objective 2: Equip a usable shared-use kitchen by July 2023. Partners will purchase equipment for an appropriately scaled and licensable kitchen space for value-added processing and community education, based on the layout design.
- Objective 3: Offer technical assistance for farmers in North Iowa by Winter 2023. Partners will offer programming specifically targeting the support of business incubation efforts. We plan to host three workshops by the end of the project.