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Dec. 14, 2018
By Ryan McGeeney U of A System Division of Agriculture
Download Word version
LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative
Extension Service is working to make locally grown food more available in several
towns throughout the state.
Amanda Philyaw Perez, assistant professor and food systems and safety extension specialist
for the Division of Agriculture, and local foods program associate Angela Gardner
are using funds from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help develop the Rural
Kitchen Incubator and Aggregator Center Development Project, which will be known as
The project, which represents an investment of more than $650,000, offers an innovative
approach for rural communities, using existing facilities and infrastructure at several
available county fairgrounds.
The project will establish kitchen incubator and aggregation centers at Searcy, Cleveland
and Woodruff county fairgrounds, located at Marshall, Rison and McCrory, respectively.
The project has five goals, Gardner said. The first is to put the kitchens found at
fairgrounds —which often have sizeable capacities but are unused much of the year
— to work as aggregation centers for local produce, as well as distribution centers
and places where value-added products can be developed, all with the intent of increasing
access to local foods.
In pursuing this goal, the project administrators hope to best serve their other goals:
to support local farms, to develop and expand opportunities for value-added food businesses,
to foster the growth of regional food economies, and to improve access to food in
underserved communities and institutions.
“In the beginning stage of this project, we’re working with the county agents and
fairground site managers and organizing advisory committees for each of the sites,”
Gardner said. “In the spring of 2019, we will conduct a regional market and community
interest assessment, which will help us better serve the clients who will use the
shared kitchen incubator sites. We hope to start site modifications and install equipment
by late summer of 2019.”
By mid-2019, project administrators plan to advertise for, and hire, part-time site
managers for each location, and plan to open the sites by 2020, Gardner said.
The project is part of a multi-state partnership, sponsored by the USDA, intended
to investigate efforts aimed at food system development to look for opportunities
to provide greater resources and technical assistance for those efforts, support regional
planning and development and to foster local food and farm business development.
To learn about the Shared Grounds Kitchen Incubator Project, contact Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about farming in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com