(Submitted by Ivory Harlow, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)
The OSU Ohio Cooperative Development Center (OCDC) and Ohio Direct Marketing Team (ODMT) toured shared-use kitchens in Kentucky and Ohio to learn how community-based commercial kitchens are helping food entrepreneurs build successful local food businesses.
Rachel DesRochers founded the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen in Newport in 2013. She opened sister sites: The Coop in Loveland, Ohio (2014) and the Hatchery in Newport, Kentucky (2016).
Rachel’s kitchens provide state inspected, certified production space for foodpreneurs like Grass Fed Gourmet and The Pickled Pig. She helps producers create professional looking products through connections with branding experts. Rachel works with retailers and distributors to place products in local stores.
She shares lessons learned building her food business, Grateful Grahams, with tenants. Rachel started her healthy cookie company in 2010. Today Grateful Grahams vegan graham cracker cookies are sold in Kroger, Whole Foods, Findlay Market, local natural food stores and cafes throughout Kentucky and Ohio.
Next, OCDC and ODMT visited Findlay Kitchen in Cincinnati. The commercial kitchen offers space and equipment for food production. Director Marianne Hamilton and manager Anthony Berin guide new food businesses to obtain required licenses and comply with food safety laws. Tenants can apply to sell their products at Findlay Market.
On the day of the visit, a crew from Brewhaus Bakery Company was hard at work baking small batches of whole grain dog treats. The company provides vocational training to adults with disabilities. Their non-profit mission is a good fit with Findlay Kitchen’s vision to build a strong local economy and community.
The Ohio Cooperative Development Center is eager to assist cooperative food businesses with formation, business and financial planning. The Ohio Direct Marketing Team helps producers prepare and successfully market agricultural products.