Born out of northwest Ohio's rich tradition in fruit and vegetable production and food processing, the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) focuses on the development and production of specialty, value added foods.
The NOCK is a nonprofit commercial kitchen facility designed to assist entrepreneurial efforts and expand current food-related businesses. For a complete list of current NOCK tenants, please click here. For a printable version of current NOCK tenants, please click here.
The kitchen facility assists new and growing businesses by providing access to a commercially licensed kitchen, networking opportunities with other like entities and technical assistance.
The kitchen incubator's services and resources bridge the gap between an idea and reality. It is costly to start a small-scale food manufacturing operation when exploring a food based venture. However, new and growing businesses can avoid this initial expenditure by utilizing the commercial kitchen until the business is viable and ready to graduate to its own manufacturing facility.
The kitchen facility maintains a baking and canning license and is approved by both the Wood County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Therefore, most of the foods produced in the kitchen can be marketed and sold in local, regional, and national markets. At this time, the facility cannot accommodate products with meat or alcohol. All ingredients must be fit for human consumption.
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The commercial kitchen is approximately 560 square feet and includes an additional dry storage area measuring approximately 90 square feet. Available equipment includes a six burner stove, bakery depth convection oven, tilting braiser, Hobart mixer with attachments, refrigerator and freezer, three compartment sink, vegetable preparation sink, hand wash sink, dry storage racks, stainless steel work surfaces, proofing box, and rolling racks.
In addition to the commercial kitchen, a food processing area is available for rent. The space includes a grade level loading dock with overhead door, a single cylinder piston filler with an unscrambling and accumulation table, steam jacketed kettles, and a labeling machine. Additionally a Hobart industrial dish washing machine, pH meter, soiled dish table with sink, clean dish table, hand sink, vegetable prep sink, and stainless steel work tables are available. There are even storage cages large enough to accommodate pallets and shelves for storing ingredients and packaging material. Two walk in cooler units 10 by 20 feet offer refrigeration and freezer storage capabilities.
Equally, one of the greenhouses attached to the main building serves as additional warehouse space, complete with individual storage cages. The greenhouse measures a total of 3,200 square feet, divided into four individual bays each measuring 20 by 40 feet (800 square feet each). All of these elements accommodate the needs of kitchen tenants working to establish their business.
In order for a client to use the NOCK, the tenant must have a business plan, at least $500,000 of general liability and product liability insurance, and pay a $200 deposit refundable upon termination of the lease. All tenants must meet the approval of the Agricultural Incubator Foundation (AIF) board, and complete NOCK's orientation and training program. Upon signing a lease, kitchen time must be reserved in advance and is on a first come, first served basis with availability any day or time. Scheduling assists in assuring more than one business is not working at the same time in the same area eliminating the difficulty in accessing equipment and maintaining confidentiality in recipe and process. No information collected by NOCK staff will be shared with other entities unless required to do so by regulatory agencies.
Pre-paid rent is required prior to utilization of the kitchen. The rental rate is $20 per hour with a four hour minimum per production period ($80 minimum per use). The hourly fee helps cover the cost of utilities and general maintenance of the kitchen equipment, facility and as well as licenses. The area is a shared use space, therefore, proper cleaning and sanitation practices are strictly enforced and staff reserves the right to limit access or fine any tenant not meeting expectations. During the orientation process, the procedures will be reviewed as sanitation practices are essential in any food handling location to ensure safety for consumers.
Assistance is available for entrepreneurs pursuing the food industry, and NOCK staff can offer names and contact information directing clients to appropriate resources. Certain small business development services carry a nominal fee.
NOCK assistance includes providing information on everything from recipe modifications for mass production, to outlets for packaging materials, to linking small businesses with food science experts. Periodically, workshops are conducted to address issues relating to establishing a food business. Previous sessions have focused on food safety, business planning, marketing, pricing of food products and entering retail outlets, to name a few. Links to information on regulatory issues surrounding pH and shelf-life testing, nutritional analysis and product labeling are also available.
Food safety information
Good Manufacturer Practices are applied and enforced.
The facility as a whole was created recognizing the need for affordable services and rental spaces for agricultural-related purposes. At the same time, it is important for tenants and members to recognize there are costs associated with developing, implementing and maintaining the programs, facilities, equipment, licenses, and permits. Rental fees are collected monthly from tenants to cover utilities, maintenance and insurance needs of the property.
The Agricultural Incubator Foundation is a unique research facility. Each company that leases a research plot treats the plot as if it were their own farm using their own people and equipment to plant, tend, gather data and harvest crops.
The farmland is comprised of Hoytville silty clay loam soil, which is representative of 80 percent of the farmland in northwest Ohio and therefore, makes the facility a prime research location. The facility features wide drives and grassed waterways for easy access to plots, a surface drainage system, and a subsurface drainage system with 40 feet spacing. There are two pumps that remove water from surface and subsurface drain systems.
The property consists of approximately 135.9 acres (101.1 farmable acres), 14.6 acres of woods, and an additional 11 acres is utilized for buildings, ponds, drives, etc.
Two greenhouses are attached to the main building, one is being used for storage purposes. Each greenhouse is 3,200 square feet, divided into four individual bays each measuring 20 x 40 feet (800 square feet each).
Main office building
The main office building consists of the following and is available for local businesses or organizations to use:
- Conference room available for a minimal fee
- Four offices (office space is not available at this time)
- Four restrooms - two men, one women, and one unisex handicap accessible
- Two attached greenhouses
- Utilities include: well water, natural gas and the main electrical supply is 480 volt three phase, also available: three ph 240v, one ph 240v, and 120v.
From the north: Take I-75 south to State Route 582, exit 187, Luckey/Haskins. Turn west (right) on Middleton Pike/582 and continue approximately 2.2 miles. AIF will be on the south (left) side of the road.
From the south: Take I-75 north to State Route 582, exit 187, Luckey/Haskins. Turn West (left) on Middleton Pike/582 and continue approximately 2.2 miles. AIF will be on the south (left) side of the road.
Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK)
13737 Middleton Pike
Bowling Green, OH 43402
Central Ohio is rich with signature food products developed locally, but recognized regionally and nationally. The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), Ohio Department of Development and the Central Ohio Restaurant Association, sponsored the first-ever Central Ohio Signature Food Contest in December 2010 which showcases many new local products ready to take that next step – actual product development.
Cameron Mitchell, president/founder, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, and David Beck, president and CEO, CIFT, recognized the three winners selected based on their product concepts:
• Liz Corzine of Chillicothe, OH, for her caramel puffcorn – Kernelless popcorn coated with homemade caramel. This product melts in your mouth and is great for small children, the elderly, and everyone in between.
• Tim Picciano of Dublin, OH, for his Irish egg roll – Delicious, large, hand-rolled egg rolls, filled with tender corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Delicately deep fried and served with Thousand Island dressing.
• Ann Trudel of Fredericktown, OH, for her Brussels Sprouts gourmet relish – Perfect blend of Brussels Sprouts and peppers in an exciting spicy, hot/sweet marinate with the savory lingering of onion and garlic.
Following a review of written applications and presentations by food entrepreneurs and chefs to a panel of judges, the highest scoring concepts were selected based on the viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, and overall appeal to the marketplace.
As a result of the award, direct consultation and technical assistance from CIFT staff will be provided to the start up businesses ranging from business planning, product/process development, shelf stability testing, labeling review, regulatory assistance, and batch product preparations for sampling. Later, production will begin at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK), a nonprofit commercial facility that educates and advises new and growing businesses, and provides access to a commercially-licensed kitchen.
Winter is certainly upon us in northwest Ohio, but a service now available will have many delighted for the cold.
The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) will host a free seminar titled, “Expanding markets through frozen produce,” Thurs., Jan. 6, 2011 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. at the CIFT office, 5555 Airport Hwy., Ste. 100, Toledo, Ohio.
A grower with excess product at the end of the season, an interest in expanding crop selection, or a desire to grow more produce for clients should attend. Representatives from CIFT will discuss a process using a cryogenic freezer that allows growers to freeze produce, yet retain maximum freshness and taste.
By flash-freezing this produce, within minutes the nutrients (and other desired characteristics) are captured immediately, retaining top freshness and preventing undesirable large ice crystals from forming because the molecules do not have time to form into the standard six-sided snowflake.
Bon Appétit Management Company will be on hand to discuss their purchasing desires associated with fresh, local produce that is frozen. Equally, learn about varieties of crops most suited to the freezing process. This information will explore new market opportunities for growers and buyers interested in local products throughout the year.
CIFT provides the following services for entrepreneurs:
Small Business Assistance
CIFT has worked with small and start up companies since the center's inception in 1995. In conjunction with the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK), CIFT provides product development guidelines, resources and marketing direction to entrepreneurs involved in the production of value-added food products. Technical capabilities, including nutritional analysis and shelf-life stability testing, ensure that the products are produced safely and properly.
CIFT hosts numerous educational programs at the NOCK facility that show participants how to establish a commercially viable food business. Our food technology center also helps food-based entrepreneurs with regulatory compliance involving local health departments and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Information on packaging options, sourcing of ingredients and labeling offer a portfolio of knowledge to start up enterprises. One-on-one consultations with CIFT business advisors provide help with defining a viable plan to establish a profitable food business venture.
The NOCK provides an affordable venue in which to develop a concept into a commercially viable food product. The commercial kitchen facility combines business and technical assistance with production equipment to bridge the gap between an idea and reality.
The ability to network with other entrepreneurs, access information and take advantage of production capacity - all in one spot - minimizes the risk for a new food business venture.
For additional information, visit the Agricultural Incubator Foundation's site.
CIFT has held past food contests to promote many new local products ready to take that next step – actual product development. Past awards have been given in different parts of Ohio to educate and advise new and growing businesses on business planning, product/process development, shelf stability testing, labeling review, regulatory assistance, and batch product preparations for sampling. Learn more about our contests held in central, northeast, southwest, northwest Ohio and across the entire state of Ohio!
CIFT has a state-of-the-art freezer located at the NOCK, along with a blanching/freezing process, which helps explore new ways and benefits for freezing produce. This allows for testing of the process variations associated with different crops. The information is then provided to growers to assist with crop selection, as well as potential buyers searching for locally-produced product in the off season.
The cryogenic freezer uses liquid nitrogen as a medium to "flash freeze" product. A temperature as low as 50 below zero is achieved in a very short time which enables product nutrients (and other desired characteristics) to be captured immediately. This service is especially helpful for growers 1) with excess product at the end of the season, 2) wishing to grow more product for new clients, and 3) interested in expanding current crop selection.
Bon Appetit Program
For several years CIFT has partnered with Bon Appétit Management Company in delivering fresh produce to consumers in the off-season. Companies continue to explore methods in which to provide quality food products, support local growers, and enhance operations. By combining resources, CIFT and Bon Appétit have been able to deliver a solution through IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) processing of local crops. Thousands of pounds of produce have been frozen and integrated into menus of institutions in the winter months. Crops such as strawberries, green beans, corn, apples and more, have been processed. Each year this program provides another market for consideration by growers either currently producing the crops or interested in pursuing new items. This remains to be the case as the following crops are being considered:
CIFT works with start-up food processing companies through its association with several midwest incubator facilities. Through these relationships, we have learned that limited distribution resources represent a major barrier to growth for small processors.
By linking small producers on a regional basis, multiple companies can synergize their distribution efforts. Utilizing backhauls and consolidating shipments, for instance, allow small companies to extend their markets and reduce delivery expenses. To this end CIFT has explored and will continue to investigate a model for creating a virtual distribution company.