Ready, Set, Sell: Allen Market Place is the Perfect Food Incubator/Farmer’s Market Combo
Lansing is a great place to start a business because there are 7 (yes, seven!) incubators to help launch your business, no matter the industry.
Of the food incubators in Lansing, Allen Market Place is the first non-profit food hub in Mid-Michigan with an incubator kitchen. It provides all the benefits of a traditional food incubator while also offering access to The Exchange: an online wholesale market that connects regional food growers to retail merchants, restaurants, caterers and food service organizations.
The opportunities to sell their product and interact with other local growers and buyers is what sets Allen Market Place apart.
Things you should know:
The Allen Market Place offers an integrative, synergistic set of services to food entrepreneurs and farmers.
- Licensed commercial kitchen in which to create value added product.
- The Exchange, our on-line food hub linking mid-Michigan growers and food producers with commercial and institutional buyers. This wholesale market aids clients in selling their offerings to buyers enrolled in our Exchange, which include hospitals, schools, restaurants, caterers, and grocery stores.
- A year-round farmers market for growers interested in selling products they grow/produce. The award-winning Allen Street Farmers Market is located outside 6 months out of the year and inside the AMP during the colder half of the year.
- Storage options including dry and cold storage.
- Regular training sessions in business and financial management, marketing and promotion, and food safety compliance.
- A shared use office space, including computer, printer, etc.
Currently we have four anchor tenants in our kitchen and can accommodate 4 – 6 more, depending on hours of use. Exchange capacity is unlimited. Farmers Market capacity ranges from 11 (winter market) to 25 (seasonal, outdoor market.)
Currently we have four companies using the incubator kitchen. The Exchange features 60 growers and buyers.
Our ideal tenant, particularly for the kitchen incubator, is someone who has a pretty clear idea of what it is they want to produce, and a general plan of action regarding securing appropriate approvals.
Rates and What They Get You:
The one-time user of our kitchen can expect to pay $24/hour, while those who commit to 4 or more hours per week for six months or more can look for rates between $12-$20, depending on the number of hours of use. There is no cost to register and post product on the Exchange. Farmers market vendor fees range from $9-12/session.
What amenities do you offer?
In addition to the “bundled options” described above, the kitchen features:
- Convection oven 10-burner range
- Two very large refrigerators
- 15 feet of stainless counter space
- Dry and cold storage
- Dish washer
- Ice maker
- Multiple sinks (3 bay, 2 bay, hand sinks, prep sink, etc.)
What Sets You Apart?
Most special is our ability to “bundle” services, e.g., a farmer or food producer vending at our winter or summer market can rent the kitchen to create product and then market them (as well as fresh produce) through the Exchange. Further, they are supported with free training sessions, one on one mentoring, office and socializing space.
We have been delighted with the response of the community to this significant expansion of our food related programs, and look forward to the Allen Market Place catalyzing a whole new set of food related, entrepreneurial initiatives!
A special thanks to Joan Nelson for providing the information in this article