Sunday, August 08, 2010

Innovation Kitchen report. Aug. 8, 2010

The Grand Opening of the Innovation Kitchen is behind us and the future is unfolding quickly.

The Innovation Kitchen is already processing local crops directly for the local farmers who grew them. First batch was delicious dilly beans! We also have a wonderful recipe for fresh tomato salsa that we will soon begin processing for local farms.

Strong interest is emerging from existing food companies who not only want the Innovation Kitchen to process for them, but importantly, many of these are asking us to work with our local farms to purchase the produce these food companies need. These request are for thousands of pounds of specific, locally grown crops, some in quantities over 10,000 pounds.

We're keeping track of what the Innovation Kitchen is buying locally as well. The list is building quickly. We started with a purchase of 2,300 pounds of rhubarb from a local grower. They have purchased hundreds of pounds of locally grown beans. Another 3,000 pounds of broccoli will be coming through in a few weeks from a great local grower (yum!). And this is just starting.

A large batch of local broccoli is also coming in this week to inaugurate the new 42 rack commercial dehydrator. This will allow the Innovation Kitchen to ramp up local purchases even further.

This week we have a specialty foods distributor coming up to meet with local growers with the goal of creating private-label brands based on farm-identified ingredients that can be prepared at the Innovation Kitchen and sold through their sales network in a nearby metropolitan area.

The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen rapidly turned the corner from talking about the possibilities to walking the walk.

We are enabling existing food businesses to grow by helping minimize their capital costs as well as operating costs. Our family farms are already producing branded products to help them utilize more of their crops and grow their enterprises year round. The Kitchen is also empowering all kinds of new food entrepreneurs with amazingly innovative ideas.

The Innovation Kitchen is already making significant commercial contributions to the Iowa County area and beyond.

And we've been open for less than a month.

What a joy to watch this unfold.

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