CANTON – An effort to create a shared commercial kitchen in Rumford gained footing Wednesday as the River Valley Growth Council voted to form a Kitchen Planning Committee.

Mark Hews, a coordinator for the Threshold To Maine Resource Conservation and Development Area, met with the group to recommend forming the committee to walk through the steps needed to complete the project.

While interest in the project was shown at a previous public meeting, the next big challenge includes a determination on the feasibility of building the kitchen and potential users for it. Hews gave council members a potential survey prepared by the River Valley Agriculture Commission that could be used to determine interest. Then the committee would need to develop a business plan and a strategy to implement the idea, he said.

A business plan has to be created before applying for funding, Hews told the council.

A list of potential committee members has been started aimed at drawing people into the project. Hews suggested recruiting members from Vocational Region 9, the schools, the Chamber of Commerce, businesses, human services, county organizations and the growth council.

He offered his services to help the committee work through the process.

The kitchen proposed to be built on the third floor of the Technology Center on Lowell Street in Rumford would provide an opportunity for farmers and what Hews calls “food entrepreneurs” to process food products without the expense of a commercial kitchen that requires state inspections and licensing.

Users would have access to commercial kitchen equipment in a shared space to prepare and process food to sell. The kitchen would meet necessary state and federal regulations, he said.

Similar kitchens have been started or are in an organizational phase statewide including one being developed in Farmington at the Fairbanks School.

Council members also inquired about the kitchen carrying liability insurance needed for local farmers to sell produce to supermarkets.


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