Maker to Market grows local businesses
Now in its second year, Maker to Market is a food accelerator to keep your eye on. A collaboration between Lakewinds Food Co-op and nonprofit food hub The Good Acre, the program helps local food makers transform their ideas into market-ready products in only six months.
“What we find when we talk to our smaller local vendors is how hard it is to go from having a good recipe idea to getting that idea to retail shelves. A lot of times these makers are chefs or cooks, and they don’t necessarily have a business background,” says Amy Campbell, director of marketing and communications at Lakewinds. Maker to Market provides makers with the resources and guidance they need. Makers have access to financially subsidized commercial kitchen and food-storage facilities, retail and marketing guidance from industry professionals, and six months of retail placement at all Lakewinds Food Co-op stores.
Maker to Market is planning to increase the number of business-skills workshops offered at the beginning of the program. “These food entrepreneurs are looking for business advice, and we want to make sure that we are setting them up for success early on,” says Emily Paul, director of kitchen operations at The Good Acre. The workshops will focus on production assistance, business consulting, marketing, branding and social media.
In 2018, the program calendar was adjusted. In its inaugural 2017 year, Maker to Market kicked off in April. But to ensure that ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible from The Good Acre’s network of farmers, this year’s production window has been shifted to reflect the Minnesota growing season: June through December.
Maker to Market’s early success revealed just how much of a demand there is from food entrepreneurs for the support the accelerator offers, opening the possibility of widening the program’s scope in the future. “This is the first-of-its-kind slow-food movement. This is a template that could be scaled nationwide. We want to look into how we can help other communities do the same,” says Campbell.