An incubator kitchen at LUSH (Let Us Share the Harvest) Valley Food Action Society offers start-up businesses an opportunity to rent a space and share equipment without having to put up the house.
The kitchen has met with a stamp of approval from Island Health — another perk which social enterprise manager Miles Armstead says is unavailable elsewhere in the Comox Valley.
“We have some great businesses we’re working with like Legato Gelato,” Armstead said. “It’s a huge cost for a small food processor to get started. The incubator kitchen provides them with a kitchen with all the tools, all the things they need which they then share with other partners of the kitchen. They don’t have to put up that initial investment. It also allows them to develop their product.”
The kitchen can be rented on a half-day, full-day or weekly basis. Among the patrons is Rose Bakery, a two-person Courtenay business. The kitchen has also been an invaluable asset to Legato Gelato/Snap Dragon Dairy in Fanny Bay. Unlike ice cream, gelato is made from milk — in this case goat milk.
“We couldn’t be doing it without them (LUSH),” said Karen Fouracre, co-owner along with Jaki Ayton. “We had to have a commercial kitchen that was willing to accept our batch freezer as a permanent fixture. We’re talking a machine that’s 300 pounds, and it has to be plumbed and wired.”
A new freezer is worth about $85,000.
“We have to operate from a commercial kitchen to produce the gelato, and we have to have it physically set up so we can have the machine working. It’s not a complicated piece of equipment but it’s very large, and it requires three-phase power.”
Her operation also requires storage space for two upright freezers and two cabinets. Without the space, Fouracre and Ayton would need to construct another building.
They pay a reasonable amount of rent and a small storage fee at LUSH.
The Cumberland Hemp Company also uses the kitchen to make gelato. One of the products is Hempscream, a non-dairy frozen dessert with hemp and coconut milk.
LUSH welcomes new members, volunteers and donations, either financial or in-kind.
Further information is available at the office at 1126 Piercy Ave. Call (250) 331-0152 or visit www.lushvalley.org.