Recently, I attended the grand opening of the Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC). The VFVC is a “kitchen incubator” and food processing facility, operated by the Center for an Agricultural Economy and located in an industrial park in Hardwick VT. There were around 400 people in attendance….loads of farmers, food enthusiasts, and politicians, who came to support and see the idea of community based agriculture, or at least to sample some really good food from vendors who are currently using the facility. This is pretty neat stuff. Folks who are interested in renting kitchen space from VFVC, usually a food start-up business, can do so along with professional production assistance provided by on site staff.
The building itself is big (15,000-square foot), somewhat boxy and industrial looking, but hides a trendy and innovative concept: “Let’s bring together local resources in order to support, facilitate and advance a sustainable, agricultural economy in a rural community”. They have 3 certified commercial kitchens that can give the users the tools and space necessary to convert agricultural produce into value added product. These kitchens (rented by the hour, or day) include a bakery, a wet-pack room for jarring and canning, and a dry-pack room for packaging items that are not cooked. Also available is the space for a meat processing facility, as well as a flash freeze unit and warehouse space. They also have two large areas that can be used for long term rental. One is currently being rented by Jasper Hill Farm, an artisan cheese company
“Hardwick has become a national model for food production”, is what Sen. Patrick Leahy said at the grand opening. That may indeed be true. For me it was a great to see local friends and farmers together and excited about incubating…”hatching” new ideas to support area farms and farming operations.