Saturday, August 27, 2011

Building business models and squishing up food.

There are times when I have to stop and remind myself just how much I love this work.

This week we got to test some new equipment. Now that I am a culinary professional - please don't try to keep up - I can safely describe the cool new device shown in the photo as one that squishes up food. In my world squishing up food is becoming increasingly important for many good business reasons.

The Innovation Kitchen itself is also an ingredient in a larger story of food hubs and regional food systems. How we create and manage these kind of ingredients - these assets - can contribute to the success of plans for improvement in our larger national food systems

Business models are emerging from our experiments at the Innovation Kitchen that will help create jobs and grow businesses in ways that can be replicated regionally, nationally and beyond for years to come.

This work can create many jobs, especially for some of our neighbors, family members and friends with difficult and challenging employment options.

Building business models. Squishing up food. I love this work.

Photo is of Annette Pierce, Food Service Director of the Hodan Center, and Master of the Universe clearly shocked at my professional food squishing abilities.

Welcome to the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen! in beautiful Iowa County,Wisconsin

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Highland IQF regional foods freezing plant advances!

Planning for the Highland IQF - individual quick frozen - plant continues to advance.

Engineering studies for the property and the equipment are currently underway. The feasibility studies are complete.

We can sell everything this plant can produce.

With some planning, this beautiful facility can then link to the Innovation Kitchen. Together they represent a viable economic development model for local foods that can be replicated at local levels and regional levels worldwide.

Our experiments with this level of advance manufacturing for regional food systems will make a lot of jobs in rural and urban communities.

Thanks to all those who have labored in the quiet to help this project advance, especially Wally and David at Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program.

This is from the brochure linked below:

"Bring an Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) vegetable processing plant to Highland, Wisconsin. Target capacity is 4 to 5 million pounds of frozen vegetables annually.

Target customers are institutions that offer food service, such as schools, hospitals and employers with cafeteria services. Secondary customers are restaurants and grocery stores."

Our Highland IQF advances!

Download the brochure describing the Highland IQF individual quick frozen produce plant.

Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program.

Graphic is one rendition of the Highland IQF plant.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kathleen Maura Fitzgerald Terrien. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.... Dec.1, 1924 - July 6, 2011

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure 'tis like a morn in spring.

In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing,

When Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay,

And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.

Thanks so much for everything Mom.

We love you and miss you with all our hearts.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tom Peters - Brand You: You Are the Company You Keep

Anyone who has followed this writing knows that I am a huge fan of Tom Peters.

Mr. Peters rocked the business world with his seminal work 'In Search of Excellence', which has received the honor and recognition of having over 10 million copies printed.

In a quote from Inc Magazine, Bo Burlingame says of Tom: "Tom Peters [is] the Red Bull of management thinkers. If the economy has got you down and you're feeling out of sorts, a shot of Peters is guaranteed to pick you up and put you back on the road to excellence."—Bo Burlingham, Inc.

Fortune Magazine describes Mr. Peters' influence in the world of business this way: "We live in a Tom Peters world."— Fortune

I loved a book Mr. Peters authored a while back called Brand You. It spoke clearly and concisely about creating greater value in your work life.

In his new book, The Little BIG Things, Mr. Peters has made that kind of major contribution once again.

In a recent post he linked to the video of the chapter of the new book called 'Brand You' (#66 in this series)

From Mr. Peters' web site: "In the most recent video, Tom explains his theory that if you want to be more innovative, you must hang out with interesting people who pull you into the future."

Watch 'Brand You' from Tom Peters on YouTube. 1:56

The only permanent business link from my blog site - Tom

Photo of Mr. Peters borrowed from the internet. Thanks

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another fun WWBIC photo

Friends at WWBIC sent a new photo from last week's gathering in Madison.

It was fun to learn that my friend Jim Frymark was also going to join WWBIC's new Rural Advisory Council.

Jim was instrumental in the creation of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen and brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to the new Rural Council. I am very much looking forward to working with Jim.

In the photo, (l to r) Barbara Eckblad, WWBIC Director of Lending. Jim Frymark, Karen Wells, WWBIC Director of Educational Programs. Rick.

Thanks WWBIC!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Great WWBIC meeting in Madison!

I'm a long time fan of WWBIC, the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation.

I was honored to join their yearly meeting at the Wisconsin Governor's executive residence this week.

I greatly enjoyed meeting with old pals and making many amazing new friends.

There is a long standing tradition among all political parties in Wisconsin that WWBIC does great good for all our entrepreneurs, women and men. This yearly gathering happens at the Governor's executive residence across administrations and parties.

I'm honored to join as a founding member of WWBIC's Rural Advisory Council.

WWBIC, the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation. Photo is of many of the people on the great WWBIC team at this week's meeting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leland Strom, Chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration visits Iowa County, WI

Our Great Lakes Food Hub Network visited Iowa County, WI recently. We were especially glad to welcome Leland Strom, Chairman and CEO of the United States Farm Credit Administration to our meeting.

I had a great discussion with Mr. Strom about our work in Iowa County and about the wonderful work emerging across our Great Lakes Food Hub Network. The Strom family farm is in Kane County Illinois, but I learned that they once also farmed land near Mineral Point in Iowa County.

The Farm Credit Administration (FCA) is the independent Federal agency responsible for examining and regulating the Farm Credit System, a Government-sponsored enterprise created by Congress in 1916 to provide American agriculture with a dependable source of credit.

Through its oversight and regulation of the Farm Credit System, FCA helps to ensure a safe, sound, and dependable source of credit and related services for agriculture and rural America.

From their ‘About Us page on the FCA web site:

“The Farm Credit Administration (FCA) is an independent Federal agency that regulates and examines the banks, associations, and related entities of the Farm Credit System (FCS), including the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac).

The FCS is the largest agricultural lender in the United States. It is a nationwide network of lending institutions that are owned by their borrowers. It serves all 50 States and Puerto Rico.

The FCS provides credit and other services to agricultural producers and farmer-owned cooperatives. It also makes loans for the following:

• Agricultural processing and marketing activities
• Rural housing
• Certain farm-related businesses
• Agricultural and aquatic cooperatives
• Rural utilities
• Foreign and domestic companies involved in international agricultural trade

Although FCA is a Federal agency, we are not supported by Federal money; instead, we are funded by assessments paid by FCS institutions.”

We were especially grateful to Mr. Strom for his visit to Iowa County and giving us the opportunity to share information about our projects here and in the region!


Photo: Leland Strom, Chairman and CEO of the U.S. Farm Credit Administration and Rick. July 2011.

Visit the Farm Credit Administration web site

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hubba visit to the Innovation Kitchen. Our Great Lakes Food Hub Network continues to emerge.

Our wonderful Great Lakes Food Hub Network gathered in Southwest Wisconsin recently. This is a hub of food hubs so we call ourselves the Hubba Hubbas of course.

Among other stops, I was honored to welcome the group to our Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point, Iowa County, Wisconsin.

The day before, my pal Sue Noble from Vernon County (WI) Economic Development offered up a great presentation at the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesen visitors center on the north side of Iowa County. At this meeting we also welcomed Leland Strom, Chairman and CEO of the U.S. Farm Credit Administration to discuss our projects. Great stuff!

During this multi-day visit our Great Lakes group moved forward in many constructive ways.

After the tour of the Innovation Kitchen on Saturday, I helped welcome our Hubba group to the beautiful, newly refurbished Mineral Point Opera House. The full group photos on my camera didn't work out, but the photo above shows a fun subset of our group

Front row (l to r): Mike Sands, Liberty Prairie Foundation / Prairie Crossing. Marty Payne and Elaine Sebald, Edible Economy.

Back row (l to r): Rick (me), Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen / Iowa County Area Economic Development. Fred Carter, Black Oaks Center for Sustainable and Renewable Living. Terra Brockman, Edible Economy. Joe Bute, Hollymead Capital Partners / Republic Food Center.

Hubbas! Thanks for a great visit to our region and especially for your visit to the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in beautiful Iowa County!

Vernon Economic Development Association. Go Sue!

Liberty Prairie Foundation / Prairie Crossing

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable and Renewable Living Our next Hubba gathering will be at the Black Oaks Center in Northeast Illinois.

Edible Economy in Central Illinois.

Hollymead Capital Partners

United States Farm Credit Administration.

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Mineral Point Opera House.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kickstarter project - Iowa County hops!

My friend Matt Sweeny founded and operates Simple Earth Hops. He is utilizing the exciting Kickstarter model for a new fundraising method for supporting free community events and educational opportunities at the hop yard. Please give this a good look!


From the project's Facebook page:

Simple Earth Hops of Dodgeville, WI needs your help to raise funds for sustainable farm events and innovative hopyard! Be a part as we share this hopportunity.

If we have already talked or you are already backing this project THANK YOU and... you can still help spread the word by inviting your friends to this event page!

Donate NOW at​/projects/fattymattybrewin​g/simple-earth-hops-slower​-smaller-local

It's very exciting to share this opportunity for you to become a part of the Simple Earth Hops project.

- Kickstarter gives people like you the chance to participate in our project by providing different levels of financial backing.

- This project gives us an outlet to ask for your help in funding our free community events and aid in the farming costs involved with sustaining our education based hopyard.

- We must reach our $11,000 goal by the deadline to receive this Kickstarter funding - it's all or nothing!

Watch our movie and let us know what you would like as a reward for your pledge or choose from one of our existing rewards (some examples of which include):
> Cascade hop candy
> Private hopyard tour
> Simple Earth Hops sticker
> Wall mount Simple Earth Hops bottle opener
> Simple Earth Hops pint glass
> Hop soap
> Simple Earth Hops t-shirt
> 2 invitations to a beer tasting
> 2 hop research books
> VIP tickets to our 2012 harvest beer festival
> Leatherman Skeletool, the ultimate hopyard multipurpose tool
> A draft box and so much more!


There are a plethora of expenses associated with hosting hopyard demonstration events and maintaining a profitable hopyard. Your Kickstarter project backing will go directly back into the hopyard.

Help us by backing the project at


Matt Sweeny
Simple Earth Hops
Dodgeville, Wisconsin

Simple Earth Hops - Smaller. Slower. Local.

Project permalink:


Thanks for the heads up Matt! Best of luck with this exciting project!

Simple Earth Hops

Support the Simple Earth Hops project at Kickstarter


Iowa County Area Economic Development in beautiful Southwest Wisconsin

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fun and valuable regional food system visits and news ongoing

Many great visits to Iowa County, Wisconsin lately.

Much good news emerging

The experiments in regional food system production we are running at the Innovation Kitchen are gaining significant attention from major investors, finance and development organizations, and governments from the federal though the local levels.

The Highland IQF (Individual Quick Frozen) produce processing plant is emerging nicely. Many Innovation Kitchen business models are working. Supporters are gathering.

Next few posts will focus on this news

Photo is of my friends in our regional Red Hat Society visiting the Innovation Kitchen. One of my great friends, Tim Marshall, is smiling over my right shoulder. I'm the one without the hat.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Resources for Entrepreneurs With Disabilities

It is such an honor to be able to work with friends with disabilities at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Tom Schraeder and Annette (Master of the Universe) and their entire team at the Hodan Center have created a strategic moment in time for rural economic development and regional food systems.

The opportunities for work, entrepreneurship, economic development and community building through the kind of regional food system experiments we're running are significant. Importantly they're replicable.

I believe our model of small scale food processing facilities can be utilized by people with disabilities to create and grow their own small businesses. The fact that our model is making good jobs for other folks with disabilities is a great piece of the puzzle.

This valuable resource for entrepreneurship information for people with disabilities comes from --

Resources for Entrepreneurs With Disabilities

Our Innovation Kitchen

There are 50 million people living with a disability in the United States. Here is President Obama's guiding principles for creating a better life for all our family and friends and neighbors with disabilities, and all the rest of us, pre-disability. blog.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

WWBIC rocks! - Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation's new Rural Advisory Council

Anyone who works with me knows how much I admire WWBIC, the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation.

WWBIC works in tough regions of the economic development world. They have a great track record of success. My kind of friends.

I'm honored to have been asked to join WWBIC's new Rural Advisory Council as one of it's founding members.

WWBIC has had a great history in both rural and urban entrepreneurship. Their new Rural Advisory Council will work to strengthen WWBIC's ties to rural Wisconsin and open business possibilities across all the great regions of our state.

I am proud to be asked to contribute as a WWBIC Advisor, and a WWBIC Ambassador. I have been promoting WWBIC's work and services all along, so this is a big honor.

The Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation is a great asset to our communities, our state and our region. I'm thrilled to be able to contribute to their economic development plans for rural Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation - WWBIC