Nestled away at 1220 Briggs Court, Central Rivers Farmshed is a small non-profit organization with big goals.
Farmshed’s mission is to expand the connection between local residents and their food by providing opportunities for participation, education, cooperation and action to support a local food economy in Central Wisconsin.
“We do all sorts of food system education networking to build the local food economy here in Central Wisconsin,” said Krista Engelhardt, Farmshed Coordinator. “Whether that be helping our producers learn about different marketing strategies or working with restaurants to try and get them to buy more local food. We want more people purchasing local food.”
To help spread awareness they are also hosting community potlucks and anyone is invited to stop by to talk and learn about the organization. Hosted at their residence on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m., some community members come out for more than the food.
“I’m a member of the community, and I just love hanging out here,” said Suzanne Paulik. Paulik has taken part in some of the classes offered through Farmshed, including a canning and preserving class and cheese making class.
The potluck also serves as a great opportunity for new community members like Sandy Liang to introduce themselves.
“I was looking for a place where I could meet new people,” Liang said. “A friend told me about this place and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved.”
Establishing community ties is one of many goals for Farmshed, but their most ambitious goal is the reconstruction of the once abandoned Sorenson’s Greenhouse into Farmshed’s “The Greenhouse Project.”
The 35,000 square foot future community food center will house an 11,000 square foot production greenhouse, community kitchen, gathering space and learning center.
The estimated expense of the project is $150,000 according to Executive Director Layne Cozzolino. $45,000 has been collected by private donations. She expects that everything will be functional by next spring.
“There is definitely a lot of potential and growth,” said Heath Stoltz, a board of directors member. “A lot of people are really excited to see what this place is going to become.”
“One of the biggest goals of Farmshed is to reconnect the community to the producers around us,” Cozzolino said. “We can be self resilient. Not only knowing how to find your farmer but also finding your inner farmer. How can you be self resilient? If it isn’t growing your own food then it’s cooking for yourself or cooking for your family. I think that sometimes we’ve really lost that connection.”
This Thursday Farmshed will be holding their biggest outreach program, the Local Food Fair at SPASH from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
“The Local Food Fair is our largest outreach event, it draws about 600 to 700 people a year,” Cozzolino said. “We have mini workshops on anything from community supported agriculture to seed saving.”