out of Northwest Ohio's rich tradition in fruit and vegetable production
and food processing, the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen focuses
on the development and production of specialty, value added foods.
The Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) is a nonprofit commercial kitchen facility designed to assist entrepreneurial efforts and expand current food-related businesses. The kitchen facility assists new and growing businesses by providing access to a commercially licensed kitchen, networking opportunities with other like entities and technical assistance.
The kitchen incubator's services and resources bridge the gap between an idea and reality. It is costly to start a small-scale food manufacturing operation when exploring a food based venture. However, new and growing businesses can avoid this initial expenditure by utilizing the commercial kitchen until the business is viable and ready to graduate to its own manufacturing facility.
The kitchen facility maintains a baking and canning license and is approved by both the Wood County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Therefore, most of the foods produced in the kitchen can be marketed and sold in local, regional, and national markets. At this time, the facility cannot accommodate products with meat or alcohol. All ingredients must be fit for human consumption.
The commercial kitchen is approximately 560 sq. ft. and includes an additional dry storage area measuring approx. 90 sq. ft. Available equipment includes a six burner stove, bakery depth convection oven, tilting braiser, Hobart mixer with attachments, refrigerator and freezer, three compartment sink, vegetable prep sink, a hand wash sink, dry storage racks, stainless steel work surfaces, and rolling racks.
In addition to the commercial kitchen, a food processing area is available for rent. The space includes a grade level loading dock with overhead door, a single cylinder piston filler with an unscrambling and accumulation table, steam jacketed kettles, and a labeling machine. Additionally a Hobart industrial dish washing machine, soiled dish table with sink, clean dish table, hand sink, vegetable prep sink, and stainless steel work tables are available. Finally, a pH meter, as well as storage cages large enough to accommodate pallets and shelves for storing ingredients and packaging material. One walk in cooler unit 10' by 20' has been reconditioned and offers refrigeration capabilities.
Equally, one of the greenhouses attached to the main building is a 20' warehouse space, complete with individual storage cages. All of these elements will accommodate the needs of kitchen tenants working to establish their business.
In order for a client to use the NOCK facility, the tenant must have a business plan, at least $500,000 of general liability and product liability insurance and pay a $200 deposit refundable upon termination of the lease. All tenants must meet the approval of the Agricultural Incubator Foundation Board and complete NOCK's orientation and training program. Upon signing a lease, kitchen time must be reserved in advance and is on a first come, first serve basis with availability any day or time. Scheduling assists in assuring more than one business isn't working at the same time in the same area eliminating the difficulty in accessing equipment and maintaining confidentiality in recipe and process. No information collected by NOCK staff will be shared with other entities unless required to do so by the regulatory agencies.
Pre-paid rent is required prior to utilization of the kitchen. The rental rate is $20 per hour with a four (4) hour minimum per production period ($80 minimum per use). The hourly fee helps cover the cost of utilities and general maintenance of the kitchen equipment, facility and as well as licenses. The area is a shared use space, therefore, proper cleaning and sanitation practices are strictly enforced and staff reserves the right to limit access or fine any tenant not meeting expectations. During the orientation process, the procedures will be reviewed as sanitation practices are essential in any food handling location to ensure safety for consumers.
Assistance is available for entrepreneurs pursuing the food industry and NOCK staff can offer names and contact information directing clients to appropriate resources. Certain small business development services carry a nominal fee.
NOCK assistance includes providing information on everything from recipe modifications for mass production, to outlets for packaging materials, and linking small businesses with food science experts. Periodically, workshops are conducted to address issues relating to establishing a food business. Previous sessions focused on food safety, business planning, marketing, pricing of food products and entering retail outlets. Links to information on regulatory issues surrounding pH and shelf-life testing, nutritional analysis and product labeling are also available.
Good Manufacturer Practices are applied and enforced.