Patchwork Kitchen – Seeking Letters of Support

Sometime next year, I hope to start pulling together community moral support, funding, commercial space, furnishings and supplies to create a downtown State College community kitchen, modeled somewhat on the Local Sprouts Cafe in Maine and called – for now – Patchwork Taproot Kitchen. (Tentative name changed in response to Jim Eisenstein’s note below about potential confusion with Patchwork Farm.)

There are currently at least three community kitchens in the Centre Region – one at Greenmoore Gardens in Port Matilda, the Foodshed at Village Acres CSA near Mifflintown and one at the Old Gregg School Community Center in Spring Mills. (Please let me know if there are more.)

Taproot Kitchen has the potential to fill several niches in the State College community, as a downtown site for:

  • cooking and food-processing classes
  • small batch processing and catering businesses supplying households, businesses, restaurants and institutions
  • a local food lunch program providing a buffet-style option for students on the Penn State dining plan (idea from Eric Sauder at New Leaf Initiative)
  • meal prep clubs preparing meals for their own households
  • meal prep businesses preparing cook-&-serve meals for non-cooking households, especially Penn State students
  • parenting clubs preparing meals for families with new babies
  • relief organizations preparing meals for the needy
  • gleaning clubs preparing local farm excess produce for State College Area Food Bank distribution
  • potlucks
  • wedding, anniversary and birthday parties
  • baking and cooking-themed kids’ parties
  • and much, much more

To work as a sustainable business, Taproot Kitchen will need the flexibility to accommodate many different uses, and a lot of enthusiastic local cooks and bakers filling up the daily schedule morning, afternoon and evening most days of the week.

Some features I’d like to see on opening day:

  • large windows, warm lighting, cozy paint colors, wood trim and floors
  • bright mix-&-match tables and chairs for up to 50 people
  • plenty of counter space
  • four or more large stainless-steel work tables
  • plenty of cupboard and drawer space for knives, cutting boards, utensils, pots and pans, crockery, cutlery and serving dishes
  • a large triple sink
  • two to three large ovens with cooktop ranges
  • a walk-in cooler
  • a large storage room with shelving for kits stored in plastic tubs
  • kits containing equipment for a variety of food processing activities like cookie baking, fruit and vegetable canning and drying, cheese-making, butchering, sausage-making

For now, to find out how much community moral support is out there for a State College community kitchen, I’m looking for letters of support – handwritten or typed – from people who would use Taproot Kitchen if it existed.

I’d like to know…

  • What would you do in the kitchen?
  • How many hours per week, per month or per year would you cook or bake in the kitchen?
  • What special features or equipment would be most important for your kitchen work?
  • Any other community kitchen ideas you have.

There’s a little progress tracker bar in the right sidebar; I’m aiming to get 30 letters before taking the next few exploratory steps of thinking about layout, size, locations, health code compliance, budgeting and funding.

So…if you think you’d like to cook, bake or eat at Taproot Kitchen, please send your letter to:

Katherine Watt, Program Director
c/o Spring Creek Homesteading Fund
156 West Hamilton Ave.
State College PA 16801


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One Response to Patchwork Kitchen – Seeking Letters of Support

  1. James Eisenstein says:

    This is a really good idea. One comment on the name — Patchwork Farms already has an established name and identity in our area. I wonder if people might be confused, or how Patchwork would feel about the name. When I first saw it, my immediate reaction was, “Oh, Patchwork is involved somehow, like Village Acres with its kitchen.”

    I know the idea of including such a kitchen as part of the Friends and Farmers co-op has arisen in informal discussions. A number of them will have received this post.

    I can write a letter of support at some point (not this morning!). I haven’t thought it through, but for now I would use it three or four times to process tomato seconds from Jade Family Farm that would otherwise go to the compost. I do it by myself in my kitchen, with small equipment and using my kitchen stove. I only bring home as many seconds as I think I have the energy to process after a long day at the farm. I would be delighted to have some help in this task, sharing the results with others who help. It would be a small step to have participants help harvest the seconds from local farms. I think we are not the only farm that disposes of seconds unsuitable for sale at a market or inclusion in a CSA, but perfectly fine after a little surgery to make incredibly wonderful sauce. With bigger burners and pots and a bigger processor, the whole enterprise would be more efficient. Opportunties exist to do similar things with other seconds (or excess that can’t be sold).

    Remind me if I don’t submit the letter of support as promised. I’m still working quite a bit at the farm (3 days this week) and am behind of most everything.

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