Time to start thinking about what to grow next year.
That’s when Essex County will have a food hub in place for processing and distribution of wholesale products made from local foods.
The new project, called Hub on the Hill, was awarded $95,000 as a pilot program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Owners of the 3,000-square-foot facility are looking to develop wholesale processing, juicing, bottling, food-drying, storage and distribution systems for local growers.
Situated at 545 Middle Road in Essex, the innocuous warehouse-type building sits on a hill just above Lake Champlain.
It’s within a mile or so of the Lake Champlain ferry dock.
The Adirondack North Country Association and Hub owner Dak & Dill are helping local producers expand out of incubator processing operations begun at the Whallonsburg Grange Hall’s community kitchen.
The grange continues to provide workshops in food-preservation and commercial kitchen space.
But the Hub on the Hill is installing a larger kitchen with dehydration and juice-processing equipment.
ANCA spokesman Josh Bakelaar said the new space in Essex is scaled for commercial food production.
Dak & Dill founder Jori Wekin is coordinator of the Hub, a nonprofit organization.
“The space will be a shared community kitchen, scaled up for commercial food production with a co-packaging component and a service to help process food products for value-added ventures,” Bakelaar said.
“There is a lot of local food distribution capacity from just this food hub being there. The storage is key for farmers, but we’re also thinking about others who want to develop our food system.
“It’s available to everyone.” [Source: Press Republican, “Essex County food hub open to local farms, producers” by Kim Smith Dedam on October 10, 2015.]