At Seward Co-op, we are enthusiastic about locally grown and made products that will delight customers. Seward Co-op’s Ends Statement, or mission, compels us to support economic development right here in our community, oftentimes yielding a higher quality of living. When money is kept recirculating within a cooperative community, as opposed to flowing out of our food shed, the local economy is strengthened. We prioritize locally made, organic, fair trade, and other products that meet the unique needs of co-op owners, as well as partnerships with businesses owned by historically underrepresented populations. However, before our staff can even consider bringing in a new product, it must be compliant with the Food and Drug Administration. What does it take to prepare a food or wellness item for selling at retail stores like Seward Co-op? Minnesota has many food production regulations that impact food producers, processors and distributors. These regulations are varied and can be difficult to navigate for folks trying to bring their product to the market. One of the primary rules in food production requires it to be produced in a commercial kitchen.
Some local entrepreneurs opt to use a community commercial kitchen, sharing space with other producers. Community kitchens are typically available for rent to the public and act as an incubation facility for smallscale product manufacturers and beginning food entrepreneurs, to perfect their work and learn from peers.
The power of community formed through producing food at a local food hub or community kitchen has ignited hope for local farmers and small-scale producers! Going the food production path alone is difficult, and it’s helpful to be surrounded by others who understand because they are experiencing a similar situation. Many community kitchens and food hubs rent space on a sliding scale or cover the cost of product liability insurance or food manager certification. When local farmers and producers come together to share common space and time, great things happen naturally—relationships and new partnerships form, and opportunities to collaborate and cross-pollinate become obvious!