This post was contributed by the Community Kitchen at Prices Fork Team.
The Community Kitchen in Prices Fork is a commercial kitchen project in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Appalachian Foodshed Project awarded enhancement grant funds to the New River Planning District Commission for a feasibility study of a commercial community kitchen at the old Prices Fork Elementary School. The project’s goal is to understand the needs of the agricultural and entrepreneurial communities and to utilize that knowledge in shaping relevant projects with impact based on the agricultural and entrepreneurial needs. During the grant period, the Prices Fork management team has made significant progress towards understanding the needs of the agricultural and entrepreneurial communities and utilizing that knowledge in shaping relevant projects with wide-ranging impacts.
To complete the feasibility study, members of the Prices Fork Kitchen team toured similar facilities, including LEAP for Local Food’s community kitchen in Roanoke, to learn about barriers for entrepreneurs and incubator start-ups. Team members also participated in conference calls, researched similar projects, attended a seminar on food hubs in Athens, Georgia, and networked with other stakeholders. Additionally, team members utilized the results of the Montgomery County Farm to Community Planning Project, analyzing them through a food-hub or commercial kitchen lens, to inform the project and apply for a Community Food Project Planning Grant.
A survey has been completed by potential customers of the farm to table restaurant in order to determine its demand and economic impact. The restaurant will serve as an “anchor tenant” for the kitchen space as well as a buyer of locally grown and made products—right from the businesses based in the community kitchen itself. A new local brewery, Rising Silo, as well as Virginia Tech’s new Campus Kitchen program, have also expressed interest in basing their activities onsite. Current work includes the preparation of an Appalachian Regional Commission grant, architectural planning of the space itself, continued outreach to potential users and community partners, and structural development of the permanent organization that will lead the project in the future. The team is compiling their lessons learned into a best practice manual.
For more information about this project, contact Jessica Schultz, firstname.lastname@example.org.