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Equip Berries and Flour Local Processing Kitchen

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We are amidst a renewed interest in looking around us and living closer to home, especially in our food supply. My cottage food business, Berries and Flour, can move from its six-year-old role as a local cottage food operation to play a stronger role in local food systems. Our farmers work hard to provide local produce and fight food insecurity, but few businesses can rely on the produce. It tends to be more expensive and is seasonal so storage is essential to keep the crops on home and business menus and in stores.

To encompass the growth of Berries and Flour beyond my home kitchen, my family has been building a commercial kitchen on our farm so the business can expand to meet wholesale needs. Not only do I intend our products to meet current demand in local food businesses and retail stores, my kitchen can also serve as a small produce processing facility, safely preparing what our farmers grow into forms that can easily be stored for use throughout the year.

I already process much of the produce I use for Berries and Flour. My staff and I wash, peel, chop, steam juice, pulp, dehydrate, and freeze, and this mostly happens by hand with small tools. As the demand for our products increases, I have worked hard to find techniques that reduce the labor component of this processing, but we still spend literal weeks hand cutting, deseeding, and peeling one crop. To expand, we must cut this labor even more.

Most commercial kitchen processing equipment is huge and incredibly expensive and this business has only gone from tiny to small. The jump to affording this equipment is an obstacle; for example, one used, refurbished, medium-sized piece of equipment was $80,000 without taxes, transportation, and installation costs. I have done a lot of research on European food equipment manufacturers and have found smaller-scale equipment that can work for our kitchen, has been approved by our health inspector, and will speed up our produce processing, allowing Berries and Flour to be a small produce processing facility that can serve our community and possibly even our region.

This move by Berries and Flour will cement our role in the local food system for a variety of reasons:
1) We can continue our work utilizing local food in our products.
2) We can continue educating folks on crops and their uses.
3) We can serve as a shared inspected kitchen for our large community (there are currently only a few churches and one shared kitchen).
4) Most importantly, we can become a small processing center for local produce.

As is often the story, the commercial kitchen build has become roughly 3x as expensive as originally bid, so the savings I had allocated for equipment have been spent on basic construction. We need the following to finalize things to become a small local produce processor:
-Hamilton Beach PrimaVac Chamber Vacuum Sealer $2,349
-EnoItalia Delta Zero Destoner & Puree Maker $2999
-three screens for Enoltalia destoner $2000

TOTAL $7348


Thank you for your time and consideration! We hope you will consider giving us a donation to continue and expand the work and services we provide to our community and local food system.
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Donations 

  • Ann Coddington
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Daniela Williams
    • $50 
    • 3 mos
  • Mary Severinghaus
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
  • Sheliah Gilliland
    • $100 
    • 4 mos
  • Kathy Oswalt
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
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Organizer

Heidi Leuszler
Organizer
Champaign, IL

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