Aprovecho Community Commercial Kitchen
Aprovecho Community Commercial Kitchen
A sustainability education center building a commercial kitchen to expand programs, educate, and support local food entrepreneurs.
A sustainability education center building a commercial kitchen to expand programs, educate, and support local food entrepreneurs. Read more
Aprovecho is building a commercial kitchen in order to expand its educational programs and stimulate sustainable local economic development! We are a sustainability education center in Cottage Grove, Oregon (near Eugene). Aprovecho’s mission is to create a culture of change toward a sustainable and holistic world. To do this, Aprovecho is heavily involved in:
- Sustainability skills and career skills education from pre-school to seniors, both on- and off-site
- Supporting the local food movement
- Incubating and launching small, sustainable businesses
- Caring for the forty-acre land trust and the educational campus
- Providing a demonstration site for sustainable living and technology
- Fostering and finding real solutions to create the world we know is possible
In the wake of recent events and the current political climate, the environmental literacy and sustainability movements are vitally important to reconnect a fragmented society and environment. Organizations like Aprovecho serve to foster a connection between time, place, and food, while incubating the transition from the old ways to the new ways. For over 35 years, we've been teaching and promoting natural lifestyles which connect nature and the local economy in a sustainable, holistic system that balances human and environmental needs rather than serving corporate greed. Aprovecho works to create a more sustainable culture and future, and we provide a model of grassroots impact. We have exciting new programs planned for 2017 and the coming years, but in order to successfully grow, we need critical infrastructure: a commercial kitchen.
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Aprovecho Sustainability Education Center needs a new commercial kitchen! Our current kitchen is too small to handle our current educational programs, and we've reached our limit in growth and community outreach. With a new commercial kitchen, Aprovecho can continue to grow and reach more people in the local and greater community, and we can further support the local food movement while providing resources for individuals starting their own small food businesses.
Aprovecho is a school - a sustainability education center. We teach trade skills, or career and technology education, specific to sustainability. Our classes include: permaculture, sustainable business development, natural building and appropriate technology. We host approximately 50 long-term residential students each year. Further, Aprovecho reaches hundreds of local community members and youth with outreach, weekend workshops, youth programs, campus tours, events and educational materials annually.
Aprovecho, which means “I make best use of” in Spanish, is a non-profit education organization located on a beautiful forty-acre land trust outside of Cottage Grove, Oregon (near Eugene). As the name suggests, Aprovecho is dedicated to making best use of the land in sustainable ways and teaching others to live more natural and healthy lives. Since its founding in 1981, Aprovecho’s land and its community of educators have been a regional resource for researching, demonstrating, and educating the techniques and strategies of sustainable living. Over the years it has served as inspiration for hundreds of students, visitors, and volunteers that have made use of its facilities.
Aprovecho hosts long-term residential education programs. These programs occur throughout the year and are on permaculture, natural building and alternative technologies. Our courses are at capacity, filled to the maximum of 18 students per term. We have outgrown our current kitchen facility. A new commercial kitchen would allow us to expand our offerings and increase the number of participants on campus.
Aprovecho incubates businesses and teaches sustainable business development. We administer federal grants for small businesses called Individual Development Accounts. This is a match savings program for emerging entrepreneurs and provides participants with up to $8,000 to generate the necessary resources to launch a successful business. Associated with this program are a 6-week sustainable business development course and Aprovecho’s incubator programs. In an incubator program, such as our the Farm Incubator Program, participants lease the use of Aprovecho's gardens and greenhouses to develop their own businesses and gain experience with low start-up costs and guidance. The commercial kitchen will be used to incubate food based businesses by allowing the production of value-added products in a shared setting, reducing start-up costs for entrepreneurs, and facilitating collaboration and networking.
Aprovecho offers weekend workshops. The ‘community education’ workshops cover a range of topics such as plant identification, composting, timber framing and tincture making. The commercial kitchen will be used for demonstration purposes and will allow us to expand our workshops to include cooking, fermentation, and preservation classes to the weekend offerings.
Aprovecho works with local public schools. Programs vary in scope and have involved partnerships both on and off campus. Our larger programs include helping students build a 400 gallon rainwater containment tank and an aquaculture system used to raise fish and plants for food. A current partnership involves the local school district and farm to school projects, where Farm Incubator participants are working at public schools helping with school gardening electives and garden maintenance. Lacking critical infrastructure (i.e. a commercial kitchen) we are not able to frequently hold field trips. Building a commercial kitchen will allow Aprovecho to host day-long field trips and serve fresh local farm to table meals for youth.
Aprovecho’s campus demonstrates myriad techniques and systems for sustainable living and technology, as well as inspiring cultural change. Every year, we train over 50 residential students and over 150 community students in alternative ways to live, work, and live healthy, holistic lives. It is a dynamic and beautiful place filled with examples of practical applications of sustainable living techniques.
- The sustainable forestry program provides 90% of the wood used in our buildings, and provides wood for heat and cooking while maintaining a healthy and diverse standing forest.
- The gardens and orchards provide much of the fresh food eaten by the residents and program participants.
- The buildings themselves provide examples of natural and energy-efficient building techniques, including passive solar design, alternative insulation, such as strawbale, chip and slip, and light straw clay, and finishing materials like earthen plasters, living roofs, and much more.
- The campus also has an elaborate land water catchment design comprised of a series of ponds and swales that hold and retain water for maximum soil saturation and habitat diversity, and a 10,000 gallon ferrocement rainwater tank.
We already have the kitchen space built to code and ready to be fitted, and a root cellar is being completed this spring! A commercial kitchen is critical to the growth of our programs and key to our ability to be an agent of positive cultural change in the Pacific Northwest and our local area, as well teach, inspire, and provide sustainable livelihood to students of all ages from around the world and from every background. This project supports our students and the community in 4 ways:
A commercial kitchen would allow us to offer deeper and richer homesteading skills to the local and regional community, including in-depth food-based courses from nutrition to fermentation & living foods to preservation and so much more.
Without practical alternatives to the current economic system, families and communities will remain dependent on the same industries that poison the environment and exploit labor around the world. This kitchen provides critical support to our Sustainable Business Development and Farm Incubator programs by providing a way for participants to make value-added products to sell as part of their business and revenue development. It provides sustainable livelihood for our students and incubator program participants, while contributing to the growth and resilience of our local economy in the greater Cottage Grove and Eugene area. It also provides a model for sustainable local economic development that can be implemented around the country.
Lacking critical infrastructure (i.e. commercial kitchen) we only infrequently hold field trips, host children for outdoor experiences, or provide education programs to preschool to 12th grade students. These age groups need access to sustainability education, including outdoor experiences and alternative career skills training, more than perhaps any other. Building a commercial kitchen will allow Aprovecho to host substantially more all-day field trips and serve fresh local farm-to-table meals for youth.
In order to expand our current programming, we need a commercial kitchen. Currently, our courses are maxed out and we are unable to run multiple programs concurrently. We are heavily restricted by the size of the current (small) kitchen, and want to grow! Aprovecho currently hosts nature exploration classes for homeschool populations, and as we grow this program we need improved kitchen space.
Risks and challenges
We have tried to budget to account for un-foreseeable costs and issues that will inherently arise through consulting with multiple contractors. Nonetheless, additional costs and delays may arise, and they may impact the timeline of building the commercial kitchen. Building this kitchen is capacity infrastructure development on campus, and is necessary for the increase in programming and participants we are planning. The programs, including the Permaculture Design Course, Natural Building Course, Alternative Technology Course, weekend Community Education Classes, field trips, and kid's classes, are somewhat contingent on developing the kitchen. If unaccounted difficulties arise and delay the kitchen, it may impact the ability to run some of our planned programs.
While issues may arise, we already have the space for the kitchen built to code. We have consulted with contractors, and have spoken with other organizations that have built similar spaces. We are prepared and eager to complete this project, and it is absolutely possible!
This is a fantastic opportunity to support a great cause, and we would love you to be involved! If you can't contribute at this time, but align with our cause, please share and spread the word by posting on social media and sending this campaign to individuals and organizations who might be interested.
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