For those wanting to turn their food business dreams into a reality, Sprout Kitchen in Quesnel is there to help.
A part of the BC Food Hub Network, the food hub and business incubator is a commercial kitchen space for people in need of food and beverage processing equipment, including freezer or cooler space.
The not-for-profit agency is funded by the city of Quesnel, Northern Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and was incorporated in early 2021.
Kate Patterson joined in the fall of 2021 and manages the facility, which currently rents out its space to two full-time members, Hixon Falls Company, known for their crackers, and Long Table Catering, which makes charcuterie boards, soups, salads, sandwiches and more. They also rent out to a handful of individual members who are looking to get their businesses off the ground.
“The main thing is getting the concept of a food hub as wide as we can,” said Patterson, who seeks to support the local food economy.
“The idea is to have different agriculture producers that come here and want to add more value-added products,” such as pickling or making jams, she said.
Sprout Kitchen is also available for people to rent for private events, such as cooking classes.
Last winter, they hosted cooking classes, although they took a break in the summer. A local chef taught the classes, which they’ll continue doing again next winter if there’s more interest.
As Sprout Kitchen receives more grants, they’ll be able to expand and buy more equipment. Filled with a food slicer, commercial dehydrator, vacuum sealer, pressure cooker, plenty of prep sinks, work tables and more, next up, they’ll be purchasing a freeze dryer.
Though not a big part of what they do, they also make granola from the leftover spent grain from Barkerville Brewing Co. The grain is baked in their dehydrator with different flavours and sold at the farmers’ market and to 10 or so different stores throughout Quesnel. It’s called Cariboo Crunch, and the current flavours are peanut butter and cocoa, coconut and apricot, and maple walnut. They also have seasonal flavours, like rhubarb and almond, and haskap berries and walnut, according to their website.
Along with the granola, they’ve been working as a courier service between Quesnel, Williams Lake and Prince George. At the moment, they’re making trips once a month, picking up and delivering local food products to and from the three communities in their refrigerated truck, including flowers.
“The idea will be to grow the network so that over time, the van will be full of stuff and go all throughout the region.”
The delivery service will connect the communities together and the local production of food, thus encouraging more people to purchase locally.
The food hub can be found at 101-101 Marsh Drive in Quesnel. They can be reached at 250-992-0958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out their website, sproutkitchen.ca.