A path toward building a shared commercial kitchen in Haywood is taking shape.

It would be a place where those with dreams of growing a business or adding value to the agriculture products grown here could rent space in a USDA-approved kitchen and qualify to sell products in retail outlets across the county and beyond.

The Rural Faith Community Development Corporation, an affiliate ministry of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, has received a federal grant to study the need for a commercial kitchen in Haywood.

Alan Rice, the executive director of the Yadkinville-based nonprofit, said the kitchen would be located on property on Jones Cove Road where all utilities are available, there is great highway visibility and its close to the community college and hospital.

“The hope is it could add to the strength of existing businesses, be a stepping stone from home production to commercial space and then perhaps finally a whole new facility that the users would construct when they grew out of the commercial kitchen space,” Rice said.

The 5-acre parcel of land for the possible kitchen is owned by Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry. Scott Rogers, the executive director of ABCCM, said the land was donated to the organization.

“We’re not in the land or community development business, but are trying to listen to the needs and decide how to use this in a way that really does help the community,” Rogers said. “Normally we’re just interested in turning around and selling property immediately, but this land presented a greater question mark for us. Are there other opportunities here that we might miss if we just put a bargain sale price on it? That’s why we are going through this extra time and are trying to listen to the community.”

ABCCM contracted with Rural Faith Community Development Corporation to develop a vision for the property that would dovetail with community needs.

“Our goal is determine what the community needs and what will be an asset to help businesses grow,” said Rice, who also serves on the governing board of The Rural Center, along with CeCe Hipps, president of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.

After meetings Rice said he and Hipps would talk about ideas and possibilities, and determined working together on this project would be a perfect venture.

“The hope is it could add to the strength of existing businesses, be a stepping stone from home production to commercial space and then perhaps finally a whole new facility that the users would construct when they grew out of the commercial kitchen space,” Rice said of the idea that is just that, for now.

For the kitchen to materialize, there will first need to be individuals in the region who express an interest in the idea and complete a survey showing how they could envision using the space.

That the kitchen looks like will depend on what users need, Rice said.

“The hope is it could add to the strength of existing businesses, be a stepping stone from home production to commercial space and then perhaps finally a whole new facility that the users would construct when they grew out of the commercial kitchen space,” Rice said.

There will be two meetings held on Monday, Nov. 18, at the Haywood County Health and Human Services conference center where potential users can learn more about the idea, complete a survey and get questions answered. The first meeting will be held at 9 a.m., while the second is at 3 p.m.

Dustin Cornelison, president of the Historic Haywood Farmers Market, said having a commercial kitchen that could be rented out would be “amazing.”

While he isn’t sure any of the individuals currently involved in the market would immediately use the facility, if one was available, it would be different.

“I think people’s mind would change if they had that opportunity,” he said. “They could sell a can of beans versus just raw beans. I can see it growing pretty quickly as people realize the potential.”

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