About

Mission

It is the intention of Taproot Community Kitchen to:

  • Promote local economic opportunity and entrepreneurship…create jobs
  • Encourage local agriculture
  • Improve island food resiliency
  • Provide resources and education in food safety and production
  • Offer small business support

Statement of Purpose

Taproot is a community kitchen and food storage provider. Its primary purpose is to create and sustain jobs that feature abundant fresh farm produce from San Juan County (SJC), Washington. In doing so its hopes to provide nourishment, livelihood, and food security to Lopez and the larger to San Juan County community by providing:

  1. Facilities for commercial food processing, in particular for adding value to locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products.
  2. A shared infrastructure which permits small entrepreneurs to develop ideas at a minimal cost, and encourages cooperation, creativity, and collaboration between food producers.
  3. A certified commercial kitchen to intermittent users such as Farmer’s Market vendors, food truck vendors, and caterers.
  4. Access to commercial equipment for individuals, families, and nonprofits to efficiently process foods for their own use.
  5. Education on safe food handling and processing practices, facilitating small business start-ups with resources and information.

It received its designation as a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization in May of 2016. It is certified by the State of Washington and San Juan County for food production.  2020 marked its first full year of operation.

Taproot’s Board Members.

Randall Waugh, Board Member and Chair, Taproot and Kitchen Operations Manager, has more than 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur and owner of Waugh Enterprises LLC, a food production company which is located on Lopez Island.  He also serves as the Operations Manager of Taproot Kitchen. 

Mr. Waugh and his company are a prime example of the success that can be achieved with the support of organizations such as USDA Rural Development and Ventures (formerly called the Washington Alliance for Self Help.) He is the inventor of Chicaoji, a vinegar-based combination of chipotle, cacao, and goji berries flavors.

As Operations Manager of Taproot Kitchen, Mr. Waugh is responsible for monitoring:  equipment operation, vendor/user compliance with operational policies, and facility security and safety. In addition, he maintains schedules for facility usage and all related record keeping.  He is also Taproot’s liaison with the property owner.

Jean Perry, Board Member and Vice-Chair has nearly 40 years of experience in food production as well as kitchen and restaurant management.

Ms. Perry’s first commercial food venture began with Guido’s Pizza, in Seattle WA. Guido’s grew to two locations grossing more than $600,000/year and employing more than 50 people. Ms. Perry, along with three partners, was responsible for envisioning, designing, building out, and managing this lively business.

In 1996, after moving to Lopez Island, Ms. Perry started Vortex Juice Bar and Cafe, focusing on simple, local, and organic foods. Vortex is now in its 25th year of operation in Lopez Village. 

Ms. Perry was also instrumental in starting the Lopez Locavores, a non-profit organization engaged in ‘cultivating a vibrant food security system through the promotion and celebration of local foods, farms, and education on Lopez Island.’  In 2016, after 8 years as Chair of the Lopez Locavore Board, Ms. Perry joined the effort to establish Taproot Kitchen

Joan Egan, Board Member and Treasurer, is responsible for financial management activities for Taproot Kitchen.  She has more than 30 years of experience in structuring financings for state, municipal and non-profit entities.  She has served as project manager in the negotiation of tax-exempt underwritings totaling in excess of $6 billion.  As project manager, Ms. Egan has been responsible for bond structuring, cash flow analysis, document review, rating agency presentations, official statement preparation, negotiation of bank credit facilities, and coordination of bond closings on behalf of her clients. 

Ms. Egan has also structured in excess of $500 million in multiple types of housing transactions, including FHA-insured mortgage loans, low-income tax credit transactions, Washington State Housing Trust Fund loans and housing bonds secured by bank letters of credit.

Prior to forming Sound Finance Group Inc. in 1991, Joan was a Vice President in the public finance departments of Citibank and Merrill Lynch. She has also worked as senior underwriter for an FHA co-insurance lender and as an Economist for Citibank.

Lissa Pfandler, Board Member and Secretary has thirty-five years of experience in business management, product development engineering, and manufacturing of products for a major information technology corporation.  She is also highly experienced in the challenges faced by entrepreneurs within the food industry.  

Ms. Pfandler has worked in numerous senior management roles involving engineering, productivity, procurement, and research and development for HP Inc., formerly Hewlett Packard. (1984-2020) Her track record in business management activities, both internal (visioning, work planning, budget management, etc.) and external (customer alignment, cross-divisional initiatives and partnerships, supplier management, etc.) is well established. 

She is also experienced in the challenges of operating, marketing and supply chain management within a food-products small business as a co-owner of an artisan bakery offering its products at regional farmers’ markets. 

Ms. Pfandler has worked extensively in the planning and implementation of Taproot’s business plan over the past 5 years.

“One great advantage of having a community kitchen is to have a place where summers’ bounty can be preserved for winter use. Pea pods, garlic scapes, broccoli, cauliflower can be blended together to make a base for a hearty winter soup. Vegetables and fruit can be canned or dried in a certified dehydrator. People can work together in groups, and excess produce can find a good home.A commercial kitchen makes the sale of products possible. Aside from the obvious benefit to all who wish to establish a business, the benefit of having a place where the community at large can participate in the preservation of nature’s bounty is worth serious consideration.”
~Jim Birkemeier

Jim Birkemeier is farmer, gardener, orchardist and all around decent human being Occasionally using Taproot’s equipment to dehydrate hundreds of pounds of Lopez Island fruit for year-round nourishment and enjoyment of Autumn’s Bounty.

Click the link to see photos and read more details about our Team.

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