And now, the REAL work begins…

Tonight, the Clinton City Council gave preliminary approval for the Big Stone Local Foods Group to lease the former Joanie’s Kitchen cafe on Main Street in Clinton, Minnesota starting on March 1st.  Lease details will be worked out with the city’s attorney.

Below is the draft plan of action for the space submitted to the council at tonight’s meeting:

Stage One: March-April 2011
–Inventory and identification of key repairs and building issues
–Deep cleaning and preliminary inspection by USDA and health inspectors
–Painting, redecorating, and design of space for initial uses as described below
–Set up office space for Healthy Food System Organizer and events coordination for local foods group
–Planning schedule of cooking/baking/canning classes and events
–Set up reference library for local foods business incubation, growing, and using local foods
–Regional outreach and media to advertise space/seek interest for business incubation and storage, aggregation, distribution, processing for local producers
–Identify key producers/partners for ServeSafe licensing and match to class schedule/locations
–Events: Open house party & Community-wide garden seed swap event

Stage Two: April-July 2011
–Early season events and classes: season extension, early planting, and using salad/early greens
–Work to bring Tuesday evening Big Stone Lake Area Farmers Market to Clinton as community development
–Research feasible low-energy produce storage models for key crops (carrots, onions, apples, potatoes)
–Obtain necessary licensing from USDA for light-duty processing of local vegetable crops
–Set up cooperative for storage, aggregation, distribution, processing for local producers
–Network with producers/facilities in nearby counties (Lac Qui Parle, Chippewa, Swift, etc.) to expand markets for local producers
–Outreach to local institutions, grocers, restaurants to explore needs for integrating early and mid-season vegetable crops into menus and onto store shelves

Stage Three: July-October 2011
–Construct storage areas for key crops to extend market season
–Outreach/booth presence at Big Stone County Fair
–Conduct canning classes for acid and acidified foods (jams, jellies, tomato products, relishes and salsas)
–Obtain health inspection/certification for processing and serving local foods on-site or for catering and other food service enterprises
–Summer and Fall harvest events—tomatoes, sweet corn & potatoes, summer squash, and more
–Network with regional food aggregation/distribution systems
–Outreach to local institutions, grocers, restaurants to explore needs for integrating mid and late-season vegetable crops into menus and onto store shelves

Stage Four (Winter 2011) and Beyond:
–Explore feasibility of creating a cooperative CSA marketing model
–Offer “winter harvest” cooking classes to highlight uses of storage crops
–Continue work to expand local markets and local production
–Continue to provide instruction and outreach to increase use and processing of local foods
–Continue to develop regional partnerships and explore marketing opportunities farther afield
–Continue providing small food business incubation support and facilities
–Develop a “Big Stone brand” to specifically market local products from this region in cooperation with Buy Fresh Buy Local, Minnesota Grown, and other regional and state branding efforts
–Raise awareness of and explore interest in a local offering of the LSP Farm Beginnings course for new producers and those wishing to increase/expand their production to create a viable small farm and food businesses

What say you, dear readers and friends?  What do you envision for the space?  And how can we help you develop the skills to make your local food business dreams come true?



4 responses

    • My excitement is tempered by knowing what a lot of work this is going to be–and knowing that I probably can’t begin to guess at half the amount of work it really will be (aren’t all worthwhile endeavors like this?). What a lot of things we will all need to learn and do and try!

      That said–what incredibly important work it is–and I am simultaneously humbled and honored to help the community do it.

      Keep it rural!


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