‘Share Grounds’ rural kitchen incubators hosting informational booths at three county fairs in September
By Ryan McGeeney
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Aug. 30, 2019
- Share Grounds aims to make full use of county fair kitchen facilities in rural areas
- Interested participants can visit informational booths at Searcy County Fair, Cleveland County Fair, Three County Fair and Arkansas State Fair
- Project hiring site managers
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LITTLE ROCK – Food entrepreneurs who want to grow beyond their kitchens can learn more about Share Grounds, the kitchen incubator project from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, at three county fairs in September.
Share Grounds Certified Kitchen and Distribution Centers offer an innovative approach for rural communities, using existing facilities and infrastructure at three county fairgrounds. The project is establishing certified and inspected kitchen facilities and aggregation centers at Searcy County Fairgrounds in Marshall, Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Rison and Three County Fairgrounds in McCrory.
The Division of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Food Systems team will be on hand from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Searcy County Fair on Sept. 6, the Cleveland County Fair on Sept. 14, and the Three County Fair, in McCrory, on Sept. 28. Additionally, project associates will staff an informational booth at the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock from Oct. 11-20.
“Fair attendees who would like to use the facility for food processing or post-harvest handling of produce should stop by to learn about the overall vision for the project and the steps for becoming a client,” Program associate Angela Gardner said. “Even if they do not have a drive to use the facility, there are other ways they can be involved in the project, such as being a volunteer on the project Advisory Board and sharing information about the project to their community.”
The Share Grounds will be open for production in 2020. The project is being developed through funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Rural Services and the Arkansas Community Foundation. These sites are equipped for small scale produce aggregation and food manufacturing.
Gardner said the project has five goals. The first is to put the kitchens found at fairgrounds —which often have sizeable capacities but are unused much of the year — to work as aggregation centers for local produce, as well as distribution centers and places where value-added products can be developed, all with the intent of increasing access to local foods.
In pursuing this goal, the project administrators hope to support local farms, develop and expand opportunities for value-added food businesses, foster the growth of regional food economies, and improve access to food in underserved communities and institutions.
Site managers wanted
As Share Grounds moves closer to its launch date, the project is also looking to hire site managers for each of the three locations, and welcomes additional applicants. The Share Grounds Site Manager will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the Share Grounds Certified Kitchen and Aggregation Center. Job training will be provided through the Arkansas Food Innovation Center in Fayetteville.
To learn about the Shared Grounds Kitchen Incubator Project, contact Gardner at email@example.com or visit www.uaex.edu/sharegrounds. To learn more about farming in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your (insert appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service