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Grant awarded for entrepreneurial workshop series at Mountain Harvest Kitchen

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 19, 2018 at 7:49 PM

UNICOI  — The town of Unicoi has been awarded a $20,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s A Rural Development for a series of training workshops for farming and food-related business entrepreneurs.

The six-month series of educational workshops will begin in November and continue through April at Mountain Harvest Kitchen, a town-operated community kitchen and regional food business incubator at 105 Unicoi Village Place, just off Interstate 26.

Ashley Cavender, communications and program director for the town, said the workshops are designed to enhance entrepreneurial development. Instructors will include industry experts and representatives of university programs across the Central Appalachian region, including the University of Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture, UT Extension, the University of Kentucky Food System Innovation Center, the University of Georgia Department of Food Science and Technology and the Specialty Food Association trade organization.

Cavender said Mountain Harvest Kitchen in is committed to creating jobs and promoting new business development opportunities in the region. “This shared-use certified commercial kitchen works with budding food businesses and provides hands-on assistance during their vulnerable start-up period,” she said.

Lee Manning, Mountain Harvest Kitchen director, said, “The reality is that starting a food business is challenging. We’re here to help every step of the way, whether that’s making connections, providing the tools or facilitating the training for our business owners to better meet their goals.”

Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said, “This is what it is all about, investing dollars into our workforce development and creating opportunities for our entrepreneurs, farmers and community members.”

The workshops will include:

• Nov. 15, Domestic Kitchen Training. Presented by UT Extension, the worship is recommended for Tennessee food producers who wish to manufacture safe food products from their home.

• Jan. 24, Specialty Foods. Presented by the Specialty Food Association, the workshop is recommended for producers of packaged foods and value-added products. The course will include a overview the specialty food industry and advice on selling to distributors, supermarkets and managing brokers.

• Feb. 12, Food for Profit. Presented by UT Extension and the Center for Profitable Agriculture, the workshop is described as “an intensive seminar for beginning farm and food businesses” focused on facets of starting a food business, including marketing, financing, food safety and packaging.

• March 14, The Science of Flavor: How to make a better product. Pesented by the University of Georgia Food Science and Technology Department, the training will focus on food product development for beginning entrepreneurs and food science concepts to improve product quality.

• April 11, Market Ready Training. Presented by the University of Kentucky Food System Innovation Center, the program is designed for beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs interested in learning more about marketing principles needed to sustain their businesses.

To register or for more information about the series or Mountain Harvest Kitchen visit www.unicoitn.net/mountain-harvest-kitchen or call the kitchen at 423-330-9650.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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