Good Food Hub to Offer Marketplace, Culinary Training in Casper
Jamie Purcell stands in a mostly empty building off First Street in Casper's Sandbar District. The Wyoming Food for Thought Project executive director details her ambitious plans to transform the building into an incubator for Casper's aspiring chefs.
Buying the 11,000 square foot building — which will serve as the Good Food Hub — wasn't initially on her radar. It currently serves as the Winter Farmers Market.
"We walked in these doors and we saw this," Purcell said. "There are so many things you can do with that."
"It's neat to be here and think about reinvigorating this neighborhood."
And so began the Good Food Hub's journey.
Purcell said the building, the former site of a VFW post, cost $800,000. Food for Thought was able to raise $400,000 and with the addition of $400,000 in matching donations, the Good Food Hub had a home.
The plan: install three certified commercial kitchens. Set up stations for people who want to sell their homemade goods. Provide a jumping-off point for aspiring chefs.
A culinary training program will offer disadvantaged people guidance on how to properly navigate a commercial kitchen. Participants in the training program will use ingredients grown on site and the finished product will make it to Wyoming Food for Thought's weekend food bags and will be sold onsite.
Cooks will have access to experts, from area chefs to attorneys to provide legal counsel on running their business.
Graduates from the program could eventually find themselves working in Casper's restaurants, Purcell said.
"This facility will become that place where if you have a dream of starting your own salsa business or want to sell tamales... Whatever the case may be, we want this facility to be the place where we help folks start their businesses and grow out," Purcell said.
Wyoming Food for Thought plans to install a warehouse on site that will collect raw goods from around Wyoming and the region.
Purcell said she hopes a rooftop greenhouse will become a fixture for downtown Casper. It will encompass 2,400 square feet of space and feature hydroponic grow towers.
The Good Food Hub will feature a marketplace for food producers to sell their products with the hope that eventually vendors will outgrow the market and move on to their own storefronts.
Currently, Food for Thought is working to get stamped architectural plans before they can move forward with the revamp.