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SAVOR THE SEASON: Hub on the Hill helps farmers, food producers

September 21, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

ESSEX - The Hub on the Hill here at 545 Middle Road is much more than a commercial kitchen.

"It's best described as a facility where we share resources, including a shared-use commercial kitchen, a retail market, a distribution and delivery service, cold storage, dry storage and information sharing," said Jori Wekin, director of The Hub on the Hill. "It's a hub."

The Hub on the Hill is the brainchild of co-founders Jori and Andy Wekin and Steve Blood. The building is centered around a state-of-the-art kitchen that was built in 2015. The Hub's mission is "to promote and support local farms and food makers in the eastern Adirondacks."

Article Photos

The Hub on the Hill in Essex
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

As such, the staff works with farmers and small food businesses to get locally grown food from the region's farms to people's forks around New York state.

"It's completely energizing and fulfilling getting good food out into our community that we and our neighbors are growing and that just helps us thrive," Jori said. "I find it most exciting and energizing when we're working together, helping each other."

Jori and Andy Wekin first came to the area to be farm managers at Black Kettle Farm in Essex. Although she continues to help out on some local farms, she made the decision not to operate her own.

"We chose to put our energy toward supporting these farms rather than continue to be farmers ourselves," Jori said.

Their contribution to Essex County's agricultural community can best be seen with the products made at The Hub on the Hill. About 25 food producers are using the facility either seasonally or year round, according to Jori.

People who have an idea for a local food product don't have to be experts in the field in order to get started.

"We are set up to help with recipes, support and scaling," Jori said. "If it's something that needs approval from an agency, we can do that for them or help them fill out the paperwork. We also buy jars and packaging and do labeling. We can also help with bringing them to different markets."

The staff, according to the website, strives "to connect the missing links in the chain between the craftsman and the consumer, streamlining the production, packaging and distribution of these products."

Food producers have access to a number of resources: raw space, commercial kitchen, bulk supplies, equipment, food storage, office space, packaging and labeling materials, marketing, event space, farmers market representation, collaborative ordering systems, workshop and tasting rooms and shared high-quality ingredients. Plus, there is a distribution service, connecting farmers and food producers with markets around the North Country and south to the Capital Region and as far away as New York City.

Hannah Collins

Hannah Collins, of Keene Valley, started her food business, Wildflora Provisions, at the Lake Placid farmers market in June. Originally from Michigan, she has a degree in environmental studies and psychology from St. Lawrence University in Canton and attended nutrition school in Colorado before moving to the Adirondacks in May.

"I'm very thankful for that spot," Collins said of The Hub on the Hill. She was selling her products at the Adirondack Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport. "I've been able to schedule my time and go there as much as I need to make all of my products."

Collins makes nutrient-dense, allergen-friendly snacks and treats - gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free - and it's supposed to be good for gut health. Products include fudge, granola, buckeyes and brownies, all made at The Hub on the Hill.

"You can go in with your recipe, make it, package it and leave with it ready to sell," she said.

The Hub's services

Visitors can stop by The Hub on the Hill to purchase local products in the self-serve market, open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

There is also a community space that offers free Wi-Fi and room to spread out and work on a laptop. It is available for rent for group events, dinners, or community functions.

The commercial kitchen features large-scale food processing equipment. It can accommodate caterers, value-added processors and community-scale preservation efforts. The rental fees are $15/hour for exclusive use of the kitchen (no sharing); $10/hour for shared kitchen/dry room use; $5/hour for light kitchen/dry room use, including packaging and jarring with minimal equipment or dishes; and $1/hour for passive kitchen/dry room use, including simmering/dehydrator use.

To help food producers with co-packing The Hub on the Hill has an in-house packer - Dak and Dill, LLC - that provides the licensing, labor, packaging and labeling necessary to transform raw ingredients into products.

The Hub on the Hill can also help with product development, including recipes, food storage and distribution.

For more information, email info@thehubonthehill.org or visit online at thehubonthehill.org.

 
 

 

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