It’s a space where Salmon Arm entrepreneurs can turn their culinary inspirations into market-ready product.
The Zest Commercial Food Hub, located at 1140 4th Ave. SW (beside the ReStore), formally opened its doors on Monday, Nov. 29.
However, demand for the facility preceded that date. Three of the spaces reserved for anchor tenants were already leased out and in use by local food producers.
In addition to those spaces, Zest also offers a commercial kitchen with a still-expanding array of equipment, a commercial dishwasher as well as a separate cleaning and sanitization area for anchor tenants, cold storage and a classroom, all of which are available to encourage and support local food processing and production.
“Originally, the Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, identified a need for food hubs for small-scale food processing, for the reason that a lot of people starting a small business can’t afford to buy the expensive equipment that’s required,” explained Zest facility manager Tracy Edwards.
For example, she explained the kitchen is furnished with a 30-gallon jacketed electric kettle, used for making things like sauces, salsas and soups. Edwards said these tend to sell for around $22,000.
In addition to the anchor tenants in place, Edwards has a long list of businesses and groups interested in making use of the kitchen space, including bakers, local berry farms for producing syrups, a school parent advisory council (for lunch programs), candy and cookie makers, caterers, a food truck operator and more.
The kitchen is available for $15.50 an hour for a minimum of four hours. Edwards said there’s also a graveyard rate, $12 an hour from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. There’s also a multi-day plan at $124 day for the first two eight-hour days, and tiers down after that.
“The whole premise of this facility is to get people in here and producing food and keep the costs down for them and grow our small-scale food producers in Salmon Arm,” said Edwards.
Though people will be able to book the kitchen online, Edwards explained there are first some boxes that need to be checked. They include having Foodsafe certification, a sanitation plan, a business licence (if producing items for sale) and insurance.
“Once they have all of those documents in place we would put them into our program, then they come in and we put them through our orientation,” said Edwards.
Zest is hosting its first event, Merry Zestmas, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3. In addition to being a “one-of-a-kind food and beverage” outdoor market, the event is also an opportunity to tour the new facility. To learn more, visit zestfoodhub.ca or Zest Commercial Food Hub on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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