Taos Food Center Expansion Supports Entrepreneurship
Taos County Economic Development Corporation’s mission is to support the unique agricultural lifestyle of northern New Mexico. The Taos Food Center, a 5,000-sq.-ft., USDA-certified, commercial-grade food kitchen is at the heart of the TCEDC’s programs. Sixteen restaurants and about 100 food-based businesses have been launched from the center. Over 600 people have trained there in product development, FDA regulations and food safety, along with the history and food culture of the region.
“The free training we provide with our food-production classes fully prepares people to start food businesses and streamlines their ability to hit the ground running with little capital but with lots of support,” said Pati Martinson, who, with Terrie Bad Hand, founded and has directed and developed the TECDC Business Park campus for the past 28 years. The campus is also home to the Taos School for Integrated Arts.
Many local businesses currently operate from the food center, making everything from fresh traditional salsas to organic scones. The center recently received $100,000 in Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds from the New Mexico Economic Development Department for needed repairs and upgrades.
Another of TCEDC’s initiatives, created in response to the closure of local facilities, is the Mobile Matanza, a semi truck fully equipped as a humane, USDA-certified livestock-slaughter unit, the second one in the nation. The initiative has helped feed families and helped outlying ranchers hold onto their land and traditional lifeways.
Calling TCEDC a “national model for community food service regeneration,” on Sept. 9, 2014, Town of Taos Mayor Dan Barrone signed a proclamation designating the second week of November, in perpetuity, as TCEDC Week. The first annual TCEDC Week Celebration and Thanksgiving for the Harvest, celebrating the food, land, water and cultures of northern New Mexico, will take place from Nov. 10-16 at the TCEDC campus at Bertha and Salazar streets. Friends of TCEDC are sponsoring free tours, films, talks and classes.
Some of the highlights: Saturday, Nov. 15, a free, Gala Expo and Food Fest will be held at Bataan Hall on Civic Center Drive in downtown Taos from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. TCEDC’s value-added food producers, along with Taos Farmers’ Market vendors, will provide tastes, samples and products for sale. Local food advocates will demonstrate food-preservation and seed-saving techniques. Many locally produced items will be raffled off. Saturday’s keynote speaker is author and Native rights/environmental activist Winona LaDuke (Ojibwe), founder and director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota. Other featured speakers include permaculturist/heritage-seed advocate Louis Hena, from Tesuque Pueblo; and Marko Schmitt, 2014 Taos Farmers’ Market manager.
On Sunday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m., a fundraising dinner prepared by Native celebrity chef Loretta Barret Oden (Potawatomi) will take place at the TCEDC campus. Oden ran the Corn Dance Café in Santa Fe in the 1990s and starred in the PBS series Seasoned with Spirit, five shows that combined Native American history and culture with healthy recipes inspired by indigenous foods.