The first major step in moving forward with a downtown Fallon hub for a food co-op will include a workshop focusing on local foods and community livability that will result in a “Next Steps Action Plan.”
Prior to next week’s workshop on Tuesday evening and all-day Wednesday at the Fallon Convention Center, Executive Director Rachel Dahl of the Churchill Economic Development Authority and her staff have been working feverishly with various organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for potential funding programs.
The Tuesday session is from 5:30-8:30 p.m., and the Wednesday workshop is from 9 a.m.-noon and 1:30-5 p.m.
In 2014, Dahl said CEDA submitted an application to the federal Local Foods, Local Places Initiative.
According to the application, “The Churchill Economic Development Authority (CEDA), a non-profit economic and community development authority, together with several other community organizations, education institutions, and local governments would like to facilitate the creation and implementation of a local food hub in an old, abandon grocery store in our historic downtown as part of an comprehensive Downtown Revitalization Project.
“Churchill County is home to the Newlands Project, one of the first Federal Reclamation Projects in the country, and a regional hub for the agriculture industry in the state of Nevada.”
More than 300 communities submitted applications, and Fallon was among 25 entities selected.
Dahl said the professional team coming will continue to review the overall application and the steps to move forward with it.
“After two days we’ll set up an implementation plan and determine funding cycles,” she said.
While the team is in Fallon, Dahl said the members will take a walking tour of the downtown area — specifically Maine Street — and look at the building CEDA is seeking to have as its central hub.
“It is our vision to create a gathering place in the heart of our historic downtown which provides an outlet/market for local farmers, local small food producers, and an emerging small manufacturing sector,” the CEDA application stated. “This will provide for better access to locally grown products including value added local agriculture products. The building we are targeting is located in the heart of downtown, closer to the eastern edge of the community, within easy walking distance to the impoverished and disadvantaged neighborhoods, and the senior housing inventory.”
Since the application was approved, Dahl said CEDA has looked at the old Kent’s Market building, which has 10,000 square feet on the first floor and the same for the basement.
“The Kent family is wanting to be part of it,” Dahl said. “They are very supportive.”
The task of putting the plan together will be arduous, and the reality of distributing food may not occur for another two to three years.
As with the Kent’s building Dahl said the grocery store will have room for butchering, produce handling, cold boxes for storage and other activities.
“There is space to facilitate the further development of our emerging light-manufacturing businesses in what we envision as an incubator for the textile-centered businesses. “
Dahl said the project could provide at least 20 jobs — perhaps — once the food hub is operating. She said those jobs would create a year-round market for local farmers to sell their products, making available to the local community a fresh-healthy supply of local produce and food, and incubating a light-manufacturing sector.
“Perhaps even more importantly we see this as an opportunity to make our Maine Street/Downtown Corridor incredibly more livable,” Dahl said.
The CEDA executive director added the food hub will be a strong anchor that will attract the local community as well as the surrounding regional communities to the downtown area.