Sunday, September 06, 2015

"Innovation Kitchens is on the forefront of the eat local movement."

Great to see the shout-out for our business in the new Willy Street Co-op Reader.  In the Upper Midwest we're being cited as a possible food supply solution to the California drought.  Creating regional food processing systems to diversify the risks involved in California-centric models seems smart to me.


California Drought Provides Impetus for Innovation

Will Cushman.  Willy Street Reader.  Sept. 2015

Excerpted from:

Innovation Kitchen…

But what about the glut of locally grown summer produce?  Minnick said an exciting new partnership between the Co-op and a local venture might help Owners take advantage of that surplus and more throughout the winter.

Willy Street Co-op is in the beginning stages of what could become a very cool partnership that would bring Wisconsin’s summer produce to the Co-op’s shelves and freezers throughout the winter.  Located less than 60 miles southwest of Madison in Mineral Point, Innovation Kitchens is on the forefront of the eat local movement.  The commercial kitchen offers light processing that stabilizes produce – via freezing, canning and pickling – which Minnick said will provide another avenue for Owners to minimize their winter dependence on California produce.

The partnership actually began in 2014 when all of the Co-op’s pumpkin pies were baked with local pumpkins pureed at Innovation Kitchens.  This year, the partnership will bring locally grown broccoli to the Co-op’s freezers after it is prepared and frozen at the Mineral Point facility.

“It’s in the inception stage right now” Minnick said.  “A lot depends on how this broccoli deal goes, which was kind of our toe in the water.”   Ideally, Minnick said, if the frozen broccoli goes well, the Co-op will partner with Innovation Kitchens to bring a few other products into the Co-op shelves yet this winter.  If that goes well, Minnick foresees a much more coordinated effort in future years that would greatly expand the Co-op’s Wisconsin produce offerings during the winter.

“Every year we meet with local growers in the winter and scope out the year to come,” Minnick said.  “Hopefully if these things work out the way we hope they will, we’ll be able to talk to our growers this winter and say ‘Hey can you plant two acres of tomatoes just for this?’”  If all goes well, the partnership could bring new growers into the fold simply for winter-use contracts.  “Ideally, we’d be actually contracting for large quantities,” Minnick said.

Innovation Kitchens CEO and Founder Rick Terrien said the kitchen’s business model is the first he is aware of in the United States.  “We’re a small, regionally based co-packing facility”, Terrien said.  “We can focus on inbounding and sourcing local produce from local farms, and processing it minimally.”  In addition to its work with Willy Street Co-op, Terrien said Innovation Kitchens contracts with some area schools and hospitals, as well as local food producers like RP’s Pasta.


California Drought.  Full article in the Willy Street Co-op Reader.

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