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What’s Cookin’: Welcome to NoCo Community Kitchen

Melinda Hambrick, NoCo Community Kitchen Manager
Melinda@prescottfarmersmarket.org   (928) 458-4163

Welcome to the “What’s Cookin’ Series”! These posts will give you the inside scoop on what’s cooking at NoCo Community Kitchen, and more importantly, allow you to meet the amazing chefs and artisans behind the food. If you want to be the very first in the know, follow NoCo on Facebook and Instagram.

For those reading about the kitchen for the first time, here is a brief recap of how the kitchen and the growing NoCo Community came to be.

Prescott Farmers Market’s roots lie in a small growers’ cooperative that gathered regularly back in 1997 in downtown Prescott. The co-op became a registered 501c(3) in 2012 and became one of the few year-round markets in this area two years later.

Forever seeking to support our local food providers, in 2018, research was conducted to determine the demand for a local food center that would provide additional sales outlets for its vendors. Part of that research revealed that market vendors did not have reliable access to a licensed place where they could safely prepare the food they sold at the market. In researching further, Prescott Farmers Market (PFM) discovered that a general lack of commissary kitchens was an issue across Yavapai County.

After an arduous application process, PFM finally received funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to remedy this need in late 2021. The timing of the project was deeply affected by every hiccup imaginable: permitting complications, a severe shortage of qualified contractors, inadequate funding for capital improvements, and lead times on commercial kitchen equipment were just a few. But, after twenty seemingly endless months, NoCo finally received its commissary kitchen license on October 1, 2023.

More Than A Commissary

Although it is a licensed commissary kitchen, NoCo is much more than that. The facility was intentionally named a Community Kitchen for many reasons. For one, up to thirty entrepreneurs can claim the kitchen as home. This fact is significant considering the number of food businesses in the area that have been forced to scramble as one facility after another either closes or changes use. While a shared commercial kitchen is meant to be a stepping stone for some business models, it’s a permanent requirement for others. NoCo is proud that some of the area’s mobile food businesses can confidently call the kitchen “home.”

In addition, two to three different businesses can use the kitchen simultaneously to create their products. Anyone who enjoys a particularly unique hobby understands the immediate feelings of both joy and relief experienced upon encountering a fellow enthusiast. Starting and operating a business, especially one that involves food, is a profoundly unique experience made all the more manageable (and successful) by being able to share ideas with other entrepreneurs. Creating a space where food entrepreneurs can problem-solve together and provide recommendations and resources is invaluable for those operators who have recently launched or have been without access to the local food business community.

One of the most valuable ways that humans (and entrepreneurs are no exception) can support each other is through sharing knowledge. To that end, NoCo’s Incubator Program further develops a sense of community around the kitchen by providing a food business-specific curriculum. Aspiring entrepreneurs often lack guidance in navigating the regulatory and licensing environment and many recently launched businesses may not understand the true cost of operating their business or how to price their products for success. The Program also connects entrepreneurs to other resources in the community through the NoCo Community Kitchen Network. The Network consists of both non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses, all of which are equally enthusiastic about supporting local food businesses.

The last part of the community is you, dear reader. Without your passion for local food, small business, and especially local food businesses, the vision of NoCo would never have become a reality. For that, we are profoundly thankful.

We look forward to connecting you to your local food makers in the posts that follow.

CONTACT US

Phone: 928-713-1227
Email:  info@prescottfarmersmarket.org

Mailing address:
PO Box 1853
Prescott, AZ 86302