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The Local Venture Center

We envision an outlet in the St. Lawrence River Valley of NY that serves as a community hub for many local projects. 
  

The Local Venture Center, part of the upcoming Homestead Learning Community (HLC) farm campus and the North Country Native Botanical Gardens (BG), will host many community-based projects. 

For instance, a commercial kitchen that can serve as a business incubator for small agricultural entrepreneurs, that would likely be available to the public for canning or other food preservation projects, by the hour or day, as well. 
We will start small and organically, growing as community needs become apparent.

 In keeping with our long-held plans, the Center will also host other wonderful projects, such as
  • a tool lending library
  • a local creamery
  • a homestead marketplace
  • botanical gardens for tourism, teaching, learning, research and demonstrations
  • our continuing "resourceful living skills" workshops will prosper with our own teaching facilities in place - we envision indoor and outdoor facilities such as the wonderful kitchen classrooms at the NY Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua (pictured above), with a taste of Upper Canada Village as well (but without the "old-timey" factor - just the skills!)
  • a center for sharing the robust thought and action, teaching and learning, renewing and innovating for healthy forestry, renewable energy, "green" building resources, and food and farming -- that represent the core curriculum of the Homestead Learning Community (HLC), which anchors the project.  This is "Do It Yourself" (DIY) culture and life-long learning as refined by the community and institutional support of the Local Venture Center.
  • ...and more projects and ideas will come forth!  As you and others give input to the process!  We want to build a facility that is truly "ground-up" -- where it happens that when someone passing by notices a shingle has blown off a building, they come back with a ladder and tools to fix it, because we are all invested in this endeavor.
Retail space, a conference and retreat center, community-oriented office and display space (geared to both locals and tourists) are all possibilities that could be built to accommodate our work, as well as fellow North Country community groups...there is no limit to the potential for the Local Venture Center campus!

Our original plan for "The Hub" that we had planned as a centerpiece of efforts was to provide infrastructure to regional farms and agricultural enterprises in the St. Lawrence River Valley/Adirondack Foothills region, and our goals haven't changed -- though the exact delivery systems for this contribution to our community may have. 

A missing link for a local food system is that there are not enough farmers growing, or growing for wholesale markets, to make the idea of a stand-alone Hub in the St. Lawrence River Valley actually viable. 

One major goal of the Local Living Venture is to create the capacity for more locally grown food to be both grown and consumed in our region, for which facilities are needed, farmers are needed (we believe some of our residential HLC students will make this place their home, expanding the food base!), and -- most importantly -- people and passion are needed! 

T
he ideal is still in place, though it may now express itself differently than once planned (without the profit-making center of a Hub food storage and distribution system as part of the complex.)  We remind ourselves that change is a constant!


Join with us as we evolve, along with our goals and mission, to meet community needs in the St. Lawrence River Valley.  Please contact us at LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com to share your thoughts and skills!


       







ARCHIVAL INFORMATION
"Hub" Agricultural Depot Developments & History


Community Economic Development
As of January 31, 2012 a group of local organizations began attending Community Economic Development meetings to collaborate on the Hub, join forces to avoid duplication in funding proposals, and to provide a support network for each others' endeavors. 

Participants include:  the Sustainable Living Project of the North Country (now the Local Living Venture), United Helpers / Sparx Management Services, North Country Grown Cooperative, GardenShare, Seedcorn, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, North Country Pastured, St. Lawrence Health Initiative, Grass River Heritage, Tedra L. Cobb and Associates, Blue Sphere Industries, and the Small Scale Food Processors Association.

The North Country Pastured Company had already been notified of their funding award to buy and operate a mobile processing unit for chickens, though it appeared there would be a process to actually receive the funds.

As a group, we shared potential fundraising sources for a Hub facility and also undertook group fact-finding tours of other Hub operations in VT and NY.

The April 18, 2012 CED meeting featured a well-attended presentation by a specialist in cooperatives, Lynda Brushett of the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) in Massachusetts. 

By summer of 2012, the newly formed for-profit wing of United Helpers, Sparx Management, assumed the process.  They applied for a grant through the NYS Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) -- for a small consortium of selected community partners (both for- and non-profit) to move forward with some portions of this project.  The REDC grant was funded at approximately $350,000, leaving the need to raise the additional approximately $1.25 million originally budgeted for the project.  Other grant awards have not been announced, though it is fair to assume that they are being applied for over time.

The Community Economic Development group meetings ceased after May of 2012.  As the scope and capacity of the new Hub plan and assets becomes apparent, we may report more. 

As a community-based not-for-profit, the Local Living Venture
endeavors to collaborate freely with all local organizations working toward the larger vision and goal of a regional food-based economy.  We are doing so through our work creating the Homestead Learning Community and North Country Native Botanical Gardens, both of which are cornerstones of the Local Venture Center we envision, but recognize and embrace that change is a constant!

Write to us at LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com
for more information or how to be part of the local skills and "DIY" movement.




For Posterity
Our Original Vision for "The Hub"

As envisioned below, The Hub will not come to fruition. 
The idea of a central facility to serve as both a community-level and small business-level center of such wonderful activities will now occur in new and different ways. 

We celebrate the opportunity to make sure that the work we do creates a "ground-up" facility that local people will feel invested in and a part of. 

Some of the facilities and endeavors described in our original concept below will have a home at the upcoming Local Venture Center, of course. 

If you see an idea or project below that you are particularly taken by, please let us know!  We seek input and helpers all along the way and value cooperative relationships in making these ideas into reality.  SustLivingProject@gmail.com.
 


"The Hub" Renewable Resource Center & Agricultural Depot
Spring 2010 - Spring 2012


T
he Sustainable Living Project (SLP) is inspired to provide a "hub" or "umbrella" site for many local endeavors, for- and non-profit.  Please note: none of the folks we're going to mention next have actually AGREED to this yet, the following is just to provide an idea, specifically, of other entities could benefit from this project.





 +  With that caveat in mind, we can picture providing a location and partnering with organizations such as the North Country Grown Cooperative, who may need a cold chain depot with coolers, packing, storage and a loading dock for their sales of locally produced foodstuffs to our local colleges and institutions -- as well as value-added facilities. 
 +  The fledgling North Country Online Farmer's Market operation is another possibility to need all of the same, and delivery "call center".
 +  The
Mobile Processing Unit (a more humane, farm-based mobile slaughter facility - initially for chickens) will need a base, cold chain facility, and storage unit, as well.
 +  The Hub will help existing businesses and create opportunities for many more enterprises that may have an interest in sharing an outlet or using a facility for a reasonable rate.


Our Agricultural facility would include a cold chain depot with:
coolers, freezers and a standardized packing area
value-added processing (
canning, drying, fermenting, vac-pac, flash-freeze)
eventually, space for artisan cheesemaking and other local dairy
packaging and assembly for "value-added" foodstuffs
aggregation and storage facilities
loading docks (multi-level for farmers and shipping containers)
regional distribution hub infrastructure
a program for a kitchen incubator/"value-added" foods business development

PHOTO:  "Reach for the Sky!"

We envision partnering with varied organizations providing institutional support for Farm to School and other institutions, as well.  We already partner with the St. Lawrence Health Initiative on the Dig In! Conference, for instance, and the NY Small Scale Food Processors Assn. as well as many, many other local and regional organizations and farms.

Both retail (possibly a Winter Farmer's Market) and a Wholesale Farmer's Market outlet could grow into this facility with us.
  Of course, either way, we'd eventually want to sell some of the goods that will be created in the facility in a storefront on the site -- though we are sensitive to support local stalwarts such as the Potsdam Food Co-op and Nature's Storehouse.

How about a tool lending library, or a seed exchange, an educational botanical garden -- cooperative ventures of all stripes will be encouraged.  A community space for use by locals and offices/classroom space for use by incubator businesses and
non-profit organizations; a place to share meals, parties and dances, would round out the mix.  Of course, our own year-round schedule of rural skills open-learning workshops (we encourage YOU to share your skills with others!) will have a wonderful home base as well.  We envision classroom space and a "hands-on" cooking center to showcase our Nutritious Delicious cooking series -- as part of a larger facility that will be a destination for locals and tourists like (hopefully as part of the ANCA Scenic Byways Trail System) on par with the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua.

All of this would be augmented by contributions by and for local students, largely through our ongoing Internship Program, which is quite active at St. Lawrence University and at SUNY Potsdam.  Nineteen students have been mentored in a variety of fulfilling and meaningful community projects since the Fall of 2010.  Creation of a "Green" Home Tours database, the Nutritious Delicious Cooking series, a Community Supported Agriculture survey and display, the first Zero Waste certified event in New York State, the Local Living Festival, Campus Sustainability Week activities, and the Campus Sustainability Summit were all created or assisted by college-level Interns. Clarkson University and SUNY Canton are natural places to expand the Program into -- a world of local good could come of the projects that can be run through such a community center!

Our plans begin with a feasibility study and business plan.  Funding is available through many sources, especially for agriculture endeavors such as the  Commercial Kitchen.  The Hub -- Renewable Resource Center & Agricultural Depot is part of our long-range plan for a Homestead Learning Community in the St. Lawrence River Valley.  At the time the College comes to fruition, some of these facilities will transfer to that campus.

If you can help us move forward through your expertise in some facet of this, or just as an interested volunteer, please be in touch!
    

Read more here: The Hub White Paper







Click here for some interesting agricultural innovations, as reported from the Stone Barns 2011 Young Farmer's Conference.


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