Shared Kitchen in Greensboro helps food entrepreneurs operate small businesses

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The more sophisticated modern life gets, the more removed most people are from their food source.

The Out of the Garden Project wants to change that.

Out of the Garden is already the biggest non-governmental provider of food in Guilford County – a feat that simply grew out of Kristy and Don Milholin listening to their kids about who they went to elementary school with during the 2008-2009 school year. Although they already provide hundreds of thousands of meals each year, Out of the Garden saw an urban farm as the next step.

“We're a teaching farm - we are about more than making money,” said Lilly Emendy, who runs the farm just south of downtown Greensboro. “Our mission is to be financially sustainable and to create incomes through growing enough food to sell it and, while we're doing that - through that process - we're teaching while we are farming.”

Emendy went to NC State but never saw herself as a farmer. Now, she and some volunteers help grow between $600 and $1,000 pounds of produce a week during the growing season.

“That will only expand as we reach more wholesale markets, grocery stores - we're going to start selling in Deep Roots this week,” said Emendy, proudly.

The natural next step was to provide a kitchen in which some folks could either take the produce from the farm or bring in their own stuff to create a food business. Out of the Garden calls it the “Shared Kitchen.”

“It allows people to be entrepreneurs and it helps grow the local food economy,” said Zak Sturm, who runs the kitchen. “People can come in here and really get their feet in the water, get started and then, hopefully, grow into larger spaces.”

People like Bree Person, who has a company called “Bree’s Cheese.”

Her signature product is a zesty cream cheese.

“It's a family recipe, I've been making it for over 25 years and everybody seems to love it,” Person said, as she filled small plastic containers with her product. “Every meeting, family gathering, festival, everybody always requested it.”

But, turning that demand into a business isn’t easy.

“You have to produce in a health department-regulated facility and I didn't have that, so this was a great opportunity for me,” Person said. “The information and the education that I've gotten is invaluable.”

Person isn’t the only one who took advantage of the kitchen to create her own business that otherwise would never happen. Meet both entrepreneurs and see the urban farm in action in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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