Saturday, January 09, 2010

Nice Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen article

The magazine Country Today did a nice piece on the new Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen recently.

I know I'm pretty enthusiastic about the entrepreneurship possibilities of local foods, but Editor Jim Massey caught me bubbling it seems. And I thought I was toning it down.

New, sustainable enterprises and regional food systems can be created to profitably serve the rapidly growing market for local foods.

Our new Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, operated by the Hodan Center, will be a piece of that puzzle. The work Mark Olson and friends have created with the Driftless Foods prototype will surely be a vital and important prototype for larger regional food system replications.

These are not the ONLY pieces of the puzzle. A lot of parts go into a system. These are just our contributions to the discussion. We're doing experiments to help build reproducible regional food systems. The plan is to take that knowledge and help reproduce it with local groups working in their own foodsheds to create platforms for local foods entrepreneurship.

Here's a sampling from the Country Today article…

"Rick Terrien bubbles with enthusiasm when he talks about the economic development possibilities a new community kitchen will bring to Iowa County.

Terrien is so enthusiastic about the project that he's moving his economic development office into the building.

'This is such a fabulous story. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it,' he said."

What I think is so compelling about our new Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, The Farm Market Kitchen in Algoma, and others that will be opening soon, is the opportunity to do so much good in so many directions.

Talked with John Aue from Butter Mountain organic potatoes this morning at the market about this. Between the Innovation Kitchen and Driftless Foods, we can potentially create possibilities for new, young farmers to come on line and food entrepreneurs to have easier, affordable access to the infrastructure, both hard (buildings and equipment) and soft (branding, marketing and pre-built sales channels). Along the way we can help existing farmers experiment in diversifying some of their operations, build in conservation enhancements, and get some cash flow going back towards our farmers and our rural communities.

These experiments won't get everything right. There will be value knowing what doesn't work also. However, I'm convinced the Driftless Foods project will become a replicable prototype for regional food systems. I'm also convinced that the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen will open up new small-scale local foods processing opportunities that can be replicated elsewhere. I believe these opportunities can be profitable for all involved, especially the lucky consumers!

Mark Olson always says, 'There is genius in action'. Yep.

The Country Today article by Editor Jim Massey

Innovation Kitchen link at the new Iowa County EDC web site.

Butter Mountain organic specialty potatoes

The Farm Market Kitchen in Algoma, WI

Photo is of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen on Dec. 11, 2009. Getting closer!

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