By Steve Whitmore
The Keene Sentinel, N.H.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Cornucopia Project, founded in 2006 to combat childhood obesity, has identified a 5,000-square-foot space that could be used for a commercial kitchen. The kitchen would allow small food businesses to prepare healthy food in a commercial kitchen and then market their food to the community.
It’s called S.K.I.T.T.L.
No, it’s not the candy or the European lawn game, both known as Skittles. This S.K.I.T.T.L. is Shared Kitchen Incubator Teaching Technology Lab, and it’s a concept hatched by the Cornucopia Project.
In the early development stages, the concept involves a commercial kitchen used by local entrepreneurs to prepare and develop healthy meals and other food products, according to Karen Hatcher, executive director of the Cornucopia Project. The kitchen would also be a teaching laboratory for high school students, she said.
Local farmers are supportive of creating such a space where they could process farm-related products that would help extend their growing season, she said.
“This is a way to support our local farms and that’s important,” she said.
The Cornucopia Project recently held a meeting to gauge community support for such a venture, Hatcher said.
About 45 people attended representing a cross section from local food businesses, community leaders, educators from ConVal Regional School District and Franklin Pierce University as well as nonprofit organizers such as The Community Kitchen, which is based in Keene.
“We had 10 local farmers, which was interesting,” Hatcher said Sunday. “They wanted to see if we could extend their season by taking excess produce for sauces, soups and fast freeze. These could be sold to institutions like hospitals. The meeting was successful.”
Hatcher said the concept is still in the early stages.
“It’s something we are exploring, but so far there seems to be strong support from the community,” she said.
The kitchen would allow small food businesses to prepare healthy food in a commercial kitchen and then market their food to the community, she said. The kitchen also would serve as a classroom for students where they could use the latest technologies to study produce, healthy diets and meals. The training can help the students land jobs after graduation, she said.
The Cornucopia Project, founded in 2006 to combat childhood obesity, has identified a 5,000-square-foot space in the Vose Farm Business Park in Peterborough that could be used for the commercial kitchen with adjacent warehouse space for deliveries, refrigeration and a freezer.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Phoebe Bray, executive director of The Community Kitchen, said. “Small producers have to have the right place to make their food. Our whole movement is to get local food back into the stores and this is one more step we can take to accomplish that.”
The concept is being developed along with Co-Creation Ventures, a company that owns and operates the Stock Pot Malden incubator kitchen in Malden, Mass. The Stock Pot Malden is a commercial kitchen where food entrepreneurs rent space, have on-site coaching and develop a business plan from staff, according to stockpotmalden.com.
Some of the businesses using the Stock Pot Malden are food trucks like Heritage Food Truck, Indulge India Food Truck, Rhythm ‘N’ Wraps Food Truck or a farm-fresh home delivery service in the Boston area like The Foodery. The Stock Pot also has a small business that trains Boston-area kitchen help known as Jobletics.
The concept Cornucopia is pursuing is like Stock Pot Malden; different small entities using the commercial kitchen to produce quality products grown locally and sold locally, Hatcher said.
“The most exciting part of this project is that it has the potential to serve not only the mission of the Cornucopia Project, but also to address overarching economic and food-system related needs and concerns in our community,” according to the Cornucopia website.