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Sophiasburgh school, County Food Hub sign five-year lease

Following a successful fundraising campaign, a five-year lease is now in place between Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board and Prince Edward County Food Hub for use of space at Sophiasburgh Central School.

Through this lease, The County Food Hub will convert a portion of the west side of the building (5,800 square feet, or the equivalent of five classrooms and storage space) into a food-based community hub.

The County Food Hub will service small-scale start up food operations, established caterers, food trucks, restaurants, the local agricultural community, entrepreneurs and not-for-profit food security organizations.

Services to be offered include the following:
· Shared use commercial kitchen for rental and/or use by businesses and community groups
· Food incubator for agricultural operations
· Business support services for users
· Food education and cooking classes available to community members

The public, businesses and not-for-profit organizations will be able to rent, at a reasonable cost, a health unit-certified shared commercial kitchen for the safe preparation of food items to support growing businesses and growing food needs in the local community. There will also be longer-term incubation space leased to qualified local/regional food producers, assisting them in scaling up operations to grow their businesses.

This partnership was set in motion during an accommodation review of some Prince Edward County schools that concluded in June 2017. The school board provided time for the community group to develop a plan to convert surplus space at the school into a food-based community hub.

The County Food Hub committee had to raise $845,000 in donations, grants and support in-kind – in seven months of fundraising.

“It is with extreme satisfaction and excitement that we enter into the next stage of this practical and innovative use of surplus space within an active rural school,” said Mike Farrell, president of the food hub initiative. “Together with our hard-working community volunteers, generous local and regional supporters, politicians at all levels of government, leaders in the regional service and culinary industry, and parents in the region, we are poised to make a difference here in Prince Edward County and the Bay of Quinte. You show people just a little ray of light and it’s amazing how many new rays of light join in.”

The construction planning and renovations will take place over the next year with the food hub facility expected to be open for summer 2019.

Sophiasburgh Central School has approximately 130 students in Grades JK-8.

“This is an exciting and significant partnership between the school board and the County,” said Lucille Kyle, school board chair. “I am so proud of the hard work that has been done over the past several months as both parties continue to be committed to this work.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff was thrilled to hear of the official success of the milestone partnership.

“The Prince Edward County community recognized early on the potential for the County Food Hub to leverage our strengths in local food, agriculture and community involvement to develop a unique and potentially trendsetting approach to rural education. We are proud to support this worthwhile initiative,” he said. “I want to congratulate the County Food Hub volunteers and the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board trustees and staff for working together to develop a solution that protects our unique rural character and enriches our community.”

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Congratulations to those who worked hard to make this happen. I have to admit that I don’t really understand it all, or how it will attract families to the school area. If after five years when the lease runs out and we have all classrooms full, then I’ll tip my hat to them.

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