News

September 26, 2019

Taproot Kitchen passed SJC Health Department inspection!!

Another step forward! Last week, the SJC Health Department inspector visited the Taproot Kitchen. She came. She saw. She approved.

The kitchen is now open and ready for all kinds of users. Whether processing for home use or commercial, Taproot is the spot for you.

And keep your eyes open for an announcement of kitchen use training. Get in touch to sign up and learn more about what Taproot Kitchen has to offer: info@lopeztaproot.org

Donations always welcome to keep the knife slicing and Taproot’s doors open: lopeztaproot.org/donate

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. 
The Taproot Crew


August 23, 2019

Opening the door to food security and entrepreneurship

Big news! Taproot passed its San Juan County building inspection for occupancy. Right off the bat this means two groups can use the kitchen: People who want to do non-commercial processing for personal consumption and people who want to manufacture commercial products as a WSDA (Washington State Dept. of Agriculture) licensed food processor.

Now for those planning to use Taproot as a commercial kitchen to prepare direct-to-consumer foods, for example for catering or Farmer’s Market prep, we have one more hurdle: an inspection by the San Juan County Health Department. We will let you know when that happens.

To clarify, the WSDA certifies “food processing facilities” and the SJC Health Department certifies “commercial kitchens”. It’s a somewhat confusing but important difference.

Jim Birkemeier prepping pears for dehydration using brand-new corer/wedger equipment.
Jim Birkemeier prepping pears for dehydration using brand-new corer/wedger equipment.

If you want to use Taproot for any reason, send an email to info@lopeztaproot.org and we will let you know how to get started.

Let us all give thanks to the many supporters, volunteers and donors who helped to get us this far. It has been a long slog and we are so pleased that we are one step closer to our goal of local food and economic security.


June 17, 2019

We know you’ve been waiting for Taproot’s re-opening.

Take a look behind the scenes on Dill Road and you’ll find a bevy of dedicated workers and volunteers creating a new Taproot kitchen that will knock your socks off. New flooring, pallet-sized doors, bright lighting, and a solid electrical system mean Taproot is set to be a unique resource for local food producers, whether commercial, non-profit, or home-use.

Ted Warner applying the floor.
Ted Warner applying the floor

Construction continues at a good clip now. Sheet-rocking, mudding, taping, painting, painting, painting. It’s all part of the process and the end is in sight.

Chris Coiley works on mudding the ceiling.
Chris Coiley works on mudding the ceiling.

We’re also hard at work defining the processes and policies for use of the shiny, new facilities. For instance, we’ll have guidance ready to help new food entrepreneurs navigate the murky waters of vendor licensing and processing. In other words, we’ll help you figure out what you need to make and sell your products.

Re-opening is so close now, you can almost taste it!


June 2, 2019

There’s a Big, New Blender Coming to Lopez Thanks to Lopez Thrift Shop

Through their generous grants to Taproot and Lopez Locavores, a lot more people will have access to healthy, local produce. Taproot is now able to purchase a commercial quality immersion blender, perfect for processing fruit and veggies.

This tool will be located in the Taproot Kitchen on Dill Road and available for local commercial processors and public use. It will also be used by the Lopez Locavores to process fruit gleaned from local farms, orchards, and home gardens. Instead of going to waste, these apples, pears, and other island gems will be washed, dried, sauced, frozen, or otherwise preserved to be distributed to our island community over the lean winter months. Lopez Fresh, the school, the Senior Center, Hamlet, and Meals on Wheels will all benefit from the great generosity of the Lopez Thrift Shop.

Thanks Lopez Thrift Shop!

Get in touch with us to learn how you can use the blender to turn your raw produce into something more. Email us at info@lopeztaproot.org


May 2019

Taproot Kitchen awarded $2,500 grant from Orcas Island Co-op FARM Fund Grant!

YeeHaw!! Taproot Kitchen on Lopez Island just received a $2,500 grant from the Orcas Island Farm Fund Grant program!

This generous grant enables Taproot to purchase food-processing equipment for use by local food producers, processors, farmers, and community members.

For example, the Lopez Locavores will use Taproot equipment to process gleaned fruit.

This is a volunteer-driven effort to preserve food gleaned from local farms and home gardens. 9,200 pounds of gleaned fruit was harvested in the 2018/19 season and distributed to several community groups. This coming season Taproot will be ready to assist the Locavores’ efforts even better.

The FARM Fund started on Orcas Island through the Orcas Food Co-op. It is currently funded by a combination of 0.5% of all sales in the Orcas Food Co-op produce department, funds raised as part of the Orcas Food Co-op “Community Hero” program and other community donations. This is the first year the FARM Fund has accepted applications county-wide. We are thrilled and thankful to Orcas Food Co-op for supporting healthy and productive food systems throughout the islands.  

The nonprofit Taproot Kitchen provides commercial grade food-processing equipment for small food businesses and to help locals to efficiently feed their families. Contact Taproot to learn more about how you can use the equipment.

Thank you Orcas Food Co-op and all y’all Orcatrazians for generously supporting food security in the San Juan Islands. Put another star next to your name!


April 2019

Remodel continues.

Walls are painted. The resurfacing of the floor and installation of the Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic panels on the walls. (That’s the wall covering you see in commercial kitchens that uneven like the skin of an orange but super cleanable and white.

Watch your email if you’ve already signed up to help or write us a info@lopeztaproot.org to find out how to help with the next steps.


December 2018

$10,000 Challenge Grant met!

We all did it! Thanks to all the generous donations, the Taproot Matching Funds Challenge has been not only been met but exceeded!

We collected almost $13,000!

Read the Islands Weekly article about Taproot’s fundraising success and community commitment.

Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support!


CoolBot walk-in cooler that was loaded with food feed people all winter.

The CoolBot walk-in cooler has apples, pears, asian pears, buckets of pickles and a LOT of  kiwi fruit. Some of this belongs to individuals but the vast bulk of fruit put into the CoolBot this season has been picked by the Lopez Island Gleaners. They’ve picked about 9,000 pounds of fruit so far this year!

The Gleaner program has two operational “branches” coordinated by the energetic Dixie Budke.

  • Lopez Island Family Resouce Center Harvest Glean Team: Picks fruit
  • Lopez Locavore Culinary Glean Team: Processes fruit

The Taproot Coolbot provides critical infrastructure to support both of these branches. Cold storage allows the fresh fruit to be preserved until it can either be served directly or processed into value added products like sauces, frozen and dried fruit, juices and so forth. This collaboration feeds the community through the Lopez Fresh Food Bank, Senior Meals, and the kids at school.


…And back to the upgrade update…

Pitch in and help with the construction phase. Contact us at <info@lopeztaproot.org> for details. This is going to be fun!!

Get on mailing list: Subscribe if you’d like to get updates about Taproot’s progress or get notification of work parties and such. There should be a pop up box to subscribe on this page or scroll down to the bottom of the page and subscribe.

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Current use:

The Taproot Community Kitchen on Dill Road has been serving two WSDA producers, Chicaoji Sauce and Kraut Pleasers, and has also hosted a number of non-commercial endeavors like a kim chee workshop and the drying of hundreds of pounds of Lopez fruit. The day to day operations of the kitchen are entirely covered by the users, and the more users we have, the lower the costs and the more improvements we can make.

Backstory: 

Existing facilities work fine for value added products that obtain their processing authority from the WSDA (Washington State Dept of Agriculture). Direct-to-Consumer vendors (Farmers Market, catering, food trucks, etc.) need a few changes to meet San Juan County Health Dept regulations. 

Current project: Plumbing and lighting upgrade

  • install sinks and dishwasher
  • install a brand new 80 gallon hot water heater. (Thanks to the Lopez Island Thrift Shop for donating this specific item.)
  • refinish the floor
  • install vinyl wall panels

Can you help?

Tell people you know who want to process food for themselves or start/grow a small food biz that we are actually getting really close to finishing the kitchen.

Get on our email list.

Email us at info@lopeztaproot.org

Support local food security!

  1. If you want to help, email us at <info@lopeztaproot.org>
  2. Donate –
  3. Please forward this message to anyone you think might like to support local food production on Lopez Island.

Questions?

Email us at info@lopeztaproot.org…. or talk to Jean at the Vortex Cafe after 3:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday.

Get Taproot News updates via Mailchimp: Click HERE

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