Lease snag shifts food hub
When one door of opportunity closes, another one opens.
That’s what Rachel Dahl, executive director of the Churchill Economic Development Authority, discovered last week.
After months of negotiating a lease to operate a downtown food hub in the former Kent’s Market building at Maine and Center streets, the deal fell through at the last minute.
“We couldn’t come to terms on the lease after their attorney presented the final copy,” Dahl said from her office on Friday.
Dahl said the parties had informally agreed to a lease in 2015. As a result of the stalemate, however, CEDA was forced to move ahead and sign a one-year lease with the Ferguson family to occupy the space once occupied by the Apple Tree and La Casita restaurants in the Town and County Square building on Center Street. Terms for the Town and County Square location have not been announced.
“They are really excited about the project,” Dahl said of the Fergusons.
Dahl said the food hub project has gained widespread attention and funding through grants since the idea became reality in late 2014.
“Everyone has been very interested in this project,” Dahl said.
Although CEDA signed a lease for its hub, Dahl still remains hopeful that one day the Kent building will be available.
When CEDA first looked at the Kent building, it contained 10,000 square feet, but the new location, which includes an adjacent room, contains almost 3,000 feet. On the upside, though, Dahl said the new location already has a kitchen and a second floor that will be used for classes.
“This puts us ahead,” she said. “We have the facilities we need to have to do the packaging and processing.”
The plan for the facility also includes retail and coffee making.
Dahl said the timeline is to ready the facility by March 1 and have the website ready for food orders on March 4. She said the first food boxes should be ready no later than March 19.
“We have been in communication with the farmers,” Dahl said. “Many of them planted in mid-January.”
Furthermore, she said the food hub has eight farms on board including five from Fallon, two from Yerington and one from the University of Nevada.
Dahl said the food hub will have plenty of fresh produce, and she said CEDA is working with Heck’s Meat Co., to provide meat in the food boxes. It is CEDA’s goal to sell memberships.
Once the food hub forges ahead, Dahl said she hopes to see more funding n order to hire a manager and eventually part-time workers.
When CEDA applied for a grant for a food hub and co-op, its narrative stated “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.”
Producer Rick Lattin, along with other growers in western Nevada, also sees another market for their food — school districts.
Another group of people who want fresh, local produce in the Lahontan Valley are Naval Air Station Fallon families. Lattin previously said local producers are disseminating the word at the air station about homegrown produce.
Additionally, business owners said anything produced locally is a big hit.
Dahl said the idea is to continue to improve Maine Street and restore prosperity to the downtown corridor for the future.