that could serve as a community hub for many local projects.
"Bringing the goat to market"In the St. Lawrence River Valley/Adirondack Foothills region, "The Hub" is a proposed facility that will provide infrastructure to regional farms (as well as renewable energy and "green" building contractors and resources).
The Hub will host a commercial kitchen for use as a business incubator for small agricultural entrepreneurs (who could then sell their goods on-site as part of "front of the house" revenue streams, as well). The commercial kitchen could also be available to the public for canning or other food preservation projects, by the hour or day. The infrastructure of loading docks, cold-chain storage, and standard packing space that will accrue with the commercial kitchen project can be leveraged to benefit many other local projects as well.
Read more here: The Hub White Paper
Coming Soon: The Hub Power Point Presentation
Community Economic Development
As of January 31, 2012 a group of local organizations have been attending Community Economic Development (CED) meetings to collaborate on the Hub, join forces to avoid duplication in funding proposals and to provide a support network for each others endeavors. We have also undertaken fact-finding tours of other Hub facilities in VT and NY.
Current participants include: the Sustainable Living Project of the North Country, 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, Grasse River Heritage, Tedra L. Cobb and Associates, Blue Sphere Industries, and the Small Scale Food Processors Association.
The April 18, 2012 CED meeting features a presentation by a specialist in cooperatives, Lynda Brushett of the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) in Massachusetts. Write to us at SustLivingProject@gmail.com for more information.
The Sustainable Living Project (SLP) was initially inspired to provide a "hub" or "umbrella" site for many local endeavors, for- and non-profit. This vision will change and grow as we develop the particulars of this new infrastructure with our partners in the consortium mentioned above, but we all share a vision of a regional food system that benefits the farmers and the food consumers in the St. Lawrence River Valley and Northern Adirondack foothills in a direct way, with minimal middle level siphoning of income. From farm to plate with as much local money staying in the local economy as possible. Our motto: Local Food for Local Folks!
Please note: no relationships envisioned below have been formalized as of this time. The following is just to provide an idea, somewhat specifically, of other entities that will have the opportunity to benefit from, and share in, this collaborative, community-based economic development project.
North Country Grown Cooperative, who are in need of 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) will need a base 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 (can, dry, smoke, ferment, 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
"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, with Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence on the Take Root! Conference, are on the Board of Directors for the NY Small Scale Food Processors Assn. and collaborate with many other local 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 -- 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 -- 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.
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. Sixteen 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 Homesteading College 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!