Addison Allies Network

Community Kitchen/Tortilleria - Development Phase

2023 Grant Amount: $6,150

Addison Allies Network, Inc. (AAN) is partnering with the Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN) to develop a food hub that includes a community kitchen and tortilleria. ACORN is focusing on the food hub, which is a collection and distribution center for local food. AAN is focusing on the community kitchen/tortilleria. 

The idea of the community kitchen/tortilleria was born after June 2021 when AAN and other community partners created a fiesta in Middlebury to introduce migrant women cooks, who had been cooking and selling foods to migrant farm workers, and their foods to the larger community. It was a wild success. Over 2,000 people came to Middlebury. The cooks were inundated with catering requests from around the county and even from around the state. However, their kitchens were not up to the task of supporting commercial ventures, which hampered their ability to grow their operations. 

As a result, AAN and ACORN started to discuss the possibility of starting a commercial community kitchen. No adequate kitchen space already developed could be found in the county. Also, authentic masa and tortillas, which are the basis of their cuisine, could not be found in Addison County or anywhere in Vermont. Integrating a tortilleria as part of the food hub project opens space for this cuisine to thrive in Addison County. As the discussions evolved, AAN became aware of growers and others in the community who needed commercial community kitchen space to start or expand food businesses.

This project will strengthen the food system in several ways. Food growers and cooks from the migrant community will have a place to create their foods products and other community members will have a commercial kitchen to make their value-added products. The proximity of the food hub will encourage the use of local products. The project will be provide support for culturally appropriate foods - currently scarce - and will make the ingredients needed available to the community at large. 

There is tremendous support for this vision in Addison County. Middlebury College and groups of students have joined AAN in bringing this project to life. This Spring, three classes at Middlebury College contributed to the development of the project with their research. The students found overwhelming support for the project in the Middlebury College community. Middlebury College classes would like access to a commercial community kitchen.

Co-op Seedling Grant funds will enable community volunteers to start renovations on the space. The building owner has agreed to provide much of the kitchen essentials that will be needed to start allowing community members to use the kitchen. The use of the kitchen and development of the community kitchen/tortilleria will be phased in as AAN raises funds and solidifies operations.