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Northfield Community Kitchen

Page history last edited by Luigi Sison 14 years ago

Welcome to the Northfield Community Kitchen Forum. We welcome your ideas and comments.


Click Here to take the Northield Community Kitchen Needs Survey


EATING LOCAL:  The Case for a Northfield Community Kitchen


We have all heard about the numerous benefits to the environment, our communities and health of eating locally produced food. We understand how eating food from local farms greatly benefits rural economies by keeping food dollars in the community. We know fresh, seasonal produce is a source of unrefined, whole food that is better for our bodies. We know that supporting small farms keeps land in the hands of those who will be stewards of our environmental resources and that food traveling less distance generates fewer carbon emissions and decreases dependence on fossil fuels. We understand that producing food close to home can create a more secure food system that is insulated from the potential health threats generated by industrially produced food. 


The question now has become:  How do we do accomplish these goals?  One key piece is a community kitchen facility available to all Northfield residents, community groups, small business owners and farmers.  We feel the time for a Northfield Community Kitchen has come.



We are working to create a community kitchen here in Northfield. This kitchen will be "certified" so that the products made there can legally be sold to the public.


The space and equipment will be available for rent on an hourly basis. Along with the kitchen facility itself, we are hoping to be able to offer technical assistance to small business owners who may benefit from support in areas like business planning and safe food handling.


Who will use it and why?

The kitchen will be used for a variety of purposes by people from throughout our community.


  • Local farmers will use the kitchen to make value-added products (jams, salsa, pies, etc.). This will create another source of income for them, and make more local foods available to the community.
  • Caterers who do not have their own certified kitchens will be able to use the space to prepare food for events.
  • Gardeners who enjoy food preservation will have the space to tackle large-scale canning and freezing projects.
  • Children and adults will use the kitchen for cooking classes.
  • Local businesses like the Just Food Co-op may produce deli items in it.
  • We want the kitchen to be used by many people, for many different kinds of projects.


Where will it be?

At this point in the planning process, we are exploring several options for our kitchen. One possibility is that it could be housed in the same building as the Just Food Co-op. If you have ideas for other possible locations, please contact us!


Who are we?

We are a small group of volunteers who are passionate about good food, local business, and a strong community in Northfield. You are welcome to join us! As we move forward we will be looking for organizational partners as well. If your group might like to play a role in bringing a community kitchen to Northfield, we would love to hear from you.




Needs Assessment


  • Types of needs:
    • Commerce: entrepreneurship, livelihood
    • Community: fellowship, culture, family
    • Conscience: local, seasonal, sustainable, self-sufficient


  • Demand side:
    • Artech: 120+students and teachers, need a kitchen to prepare lunch during school year.
    • Just Food Co-op: limited cooking facilities.
    • Catering opportunities for special events
    • Carleton and St. Olaf College students not in regular meal plan
    • Households who want freshly cooked, healthy food but don't have time to cook
    • People who want to learn how to cook
    • People with special dietary preferences or requirements
    • Local food supply activists to bolster sales and distribution of locally produced products
    • People with weight problems (about 25% of adult population) Reference: MN study on obesity
      • The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults doubled from 12 percent to 25 percent between 1990 and 2006. Many experts now agree that obesity is an "epidemic" in the United States.
      • If the state (Minnesota) does nothing, by the year 2020 less than a quarter of the population, approximately 23 percent, will be at a healthy weight.
      • The obesity epidemic may best be understood as an epidemic of inadequate physical activity and unhealthy eating. Our social and physical enviroments consistently promote poor eating choices and less activity -- that is "what's normal" right now in Minnesota.
  • Supply side
    • General and Hispanic community: aspiring entrepreneurs without a cooking facility
    • Farmers who want to create value-added products
    • People who know how to cook and can teach
    • People who know how to build a business




Vision, governance, and potential funding statement


Why we want this? - Erin B.


What will it be? - Erin B.


The Northfield Community Kitchen is

  • a certified commercial kitchen
  • that is used by individuals and organizations
  • on a time-sharing basis
  • to prepare food that can be sold


What is it used for?


  1. Enable local farmers to produce value added products
  2. Provide space for catering businesses
  3. Host cooking classes
  4. Enable large scale canning and preserving
  5. Create deli for co-op
  6. Enable commercial production of cooked/baked food
  7. Create a place for people to socialize
  • dining facility?
  • retail?

Where could it be located? - Erin B.


  • adjacent to Just Food Co-op
  • near Just Food Co-op
  • downtown Northfield
  • light industrial area
  • rural area

Governance: What are other community kitchens like? - Luigi S.


Name Primary Activity Governance Structure
Connect Community Kitchen Community cooking  
The Three Stone Hearth Prepared food for home consumption worker-owned cooperative
United Way Community Kitchen Serving meals for low- and moderate- income families nonprofit
La Cocina Community Kitchen Business incubator nonprofit
America's Second Harvest - Community Kitchen Job training, serving meals nonprofit
Rockingham Community Kitchen Value-added food products county government agency
Tufts Community Kitchen Project Social work university program
Coulee Region Business Center Commercial Kitchen  Business incubator  
Bela Sol Community Supported Kitchen Community cooking cooperative


How will it be funded? - Kirsten


  • Equity
  • Grant
  • Borrowing
  • Operating Revenue



Physical description of potential kitchen

What will it look like?



Who are developing this idea?


Erin Barnett, grant writer

Vera Chang, <veraliangchang@gmail.com> Carleton College student, Food Truth

Angel Dobrow, <adobrow@hotmail.com>, 612-216-1206, mom and food activist

Olivia Frey <oliviafrey209@hotmail.com>, The Center for Sustainable Living

Regi Haslett-Marroquin, <regi@latinoenterprisecenter.org>, Latino Enterprise Center

Erin Johnson, < openhandsfarm@gmail.com>, 507-645-2871, owner-farmer, Open Hands Farm

Ann Occhiato, <abate52374@cs.com>

Luigi Sison, <lsison@yahoo.com>, 612-281-2551, teaching chef, luigicooks

Hillary Wiener <wienerh@carleton.edu>, Carleton College student, children cooking teacher




Date Task/Milestone
2/3 First drafts will be posted on wiki site
2/8 Remaining committee members will comment.
2/11 meeting at Kirsten’s house at 7 pm (403 Nevada St. Nfld)
 2/20 Finalize white paper/survey form
 3/3 Review progress of needs survey @ Angel's house 7pm 1301 Wash st
 3/31 Complete needs survey
  Prepare business plan



Comments (4)

Anonymous said

at 8:54 am on Feb 3, 2008

I changed my title from super-mom. All moms are super, so it was redundant!

Anonymous said

at 9:01 pm on Feb 4, 2008

Well, I just had a great conversation in the co-op, and what do people think of expanding this kitchen concept to being a local food processing/storage/distribution center? Farmers could rent/share root cellar space (built underneath the kitchen, of course.) They could host twice-weekly farmers markets, or sell products made in the kitchen. We could install huge solar-powered cooling centers (as opposed to electric refrigerators), attach a community greenhouse for indoor herbs and hydroponic greens. Erect a wind turbine to power the lights, build a brick oven for year-round breads, test composting toilets. Let's get off the national food grid!! Whew!

Anonymous said

at 7:04 pm on Feb 23, 2008

This is a great idea! As part of the organizing committee I am open to taking this idea to where ever the interest lies. A year round farmer's market model exists in Viroqua, WI. They have a large indoor space on their main street where there are shops around the perimeter housing art/jewelery stores and food vendors and farmers set up in the center/common space. It is rather neat albeit small but Viroqua is a much smaller community than Northfield with a less vibrant business sector. I like this idea too but a warehouse/processing facility would be a great benefit to our local farmers. Let's see what the needs assessment tells us people are most interested in I guess!

Anonymous said

at 6:33 am on Mar 14, 2008

Katie from WEI response re: feasibility study distribution
Hi Angel,
I think it's ok if you want to share the feasibility study with the members of your group, but maybe not too far beyond that, keeping in mind this is only a draft. I know that when I was working on it I always had the hope in the back of my mind that this document would be useful for other groups starting similar projects, so I'm glad that you find it useful to you! I've attached the PDF of the feasibility study for you to use in case you didn't already have it.
Good luck with your endeavor! Katie

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