by Jen Stott and Claudia Espaillat
When you have apples, make applesauce? That was the idea that started The RI Harvest Kitchen Project in January of 2010. This program is part of Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s initiative to increase the variety of value-added local farm products available and part of the Farm Fresh mission to create a community-based food system.
The Harvest Kitchen Project is a 20-week culinary and job-readiness training program for youth within the Division of Juvenile Corrections. It is a partnership with Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Rhode Island Juvenile Corrections and focuses on positive youth development and empowerment –the more time in the kitchen, less time in the streets.
The youth at Harvest Kitchen create a line of high-quality preserved foods using ingredients sourced from local farmers at a certified kitchen in Pawtucket. The culinary job training program provides a “next step” of real life experiences in one of Rhode Island’s top five job producing industries.
Products made in the Harvest Kitchen are sold at local stores, to wholesale customers via Farm Fresh RI’s Market Mobile and at farmers markets throughout Rhode Island by the youth participating in the program. The objective of the Harvest Kitchen is to provide the youth with a complete experience of processing and marketing products which they have made. Along with grant funding and donations, ALL proceeds from product sales go directly back into the Harvest Kitchen Project to help support programming for the youth.
The Harvest Kitchen staff also aims to foster good relationships with employers who provide employment/internship opportunities to our graduates to further their job readiness and employable job skills. Examples of our community partners include RISD Dining services, Schartner Farms, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Epicurious, Cable Car Cinema, Julian’s, City Meal, AFIA and Blend Café.
In the long-term, proceeds from sales will sustain the Harvest Kitchen program. We envision forging strong partnerships in the community and with farmers in order to provide healthy options for consumers, restaurants and institutional food service buyers. For more information about Harvest Kitchen visit farmfreshri.org/harvestkitchen.php.
You can find Harvest Kitchen products at select locations:
- The Hope Artist Village Wintertime Farmers Market
- The Lippit Park Farmers Market in Providence during the Summer on Saturdays
- The Armory Park Farmers Market in Providence during the Summer on Thursdays
- The Slater Park Farmers Market in Providence during the Summer on Sundays
- The Fertile Underground at 1577 Westminster Street, Providence, RI
- Schartner Farms Farmstand 1 Arnold Place, Exeter, RI
City Feed and Supply 672 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA