Friday, January 21, 2011

Join us at the 2011 Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference, Madison Jan. 27

The 2011 Midwest Value Added Agriculture Conference will be held in Madison next week.

I'll be making a presentation on Thursday, Jan 27 titled: "How to Utilize the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen: Start & Grow a Virtual Food Business."

Here is the full description of this presentation: "The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point, WI is a unique food processing facility, capable of providing outsourced services for all phases of food processing and logistics. Artisan food entrepreneurs can utilize the Innovation Kitchen to provide most steps of the processing, from ingredient purchase, food preparation, processing, packaging, labeling, storage and shipping."

I'm going to build this from the new presentation I did with the Wisconsin Local Food Summit recently, and add what I've learned since.

The emphasis of this approach is that simply providing space and equipment in incubator kitchens is not the end of the story. There is a much bigger opportunity available to develop and grow the market for local foods by providing professional food processing and business services at the local and regional levels.

There are certainly many opportunities available for people to process their own food products themselves in incubator kitchens. I encourage it, and we have some great new processing partners working in that capacity in the Innovation Kitchen.

However if we want to make a significant impact on the process of re-localizing big food sheds, I believe we need to focus on getting appropriate scale food processing and business services in place if we're going to make good, healthy, local foods available year round at affordable prices to the widest number of people.

I also believe we can learn to replicate this kind of platform over and over, not just in rural regions but also to support and celebrate the pioneering work being done in urban agriculture.

It will take many small local and regional plants working together to do this. This year we're organizing our first network of collaborating facilities. The initial network will start with three partners. Two artisan commercial food processing kitchens and a beautiful food packaging, cold storage and distribution facility.

Our first collaborative network of food processing facilities is underway!

All three of these facilities support people with disabilities. This artisan food processing network is at the heart of a high quality food-growing region in the center of 35 million people, all within a half day's drive.

The real fun will come as we start to grow these networks out to knit urban and rural communities together through good, healthy food and high quality, local job creation.

Yum. My kinda story. Sign me up.

Download the conference brochure and full agenda from the River Country RCD site.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Our home state global heroes of urban agriculture, Growing Power.

Iowa County Wisconsin economic development. Come grow with us

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