Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Stop Shop for Food Production, Processing and Distribution

Every year, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture releases a Community Food Project Competitive Grant Program proposal and this year the Edible Skyline is in the mix!  As part of the Crema y Cosecha/Cream of the Crop proposal, CORE/El Centro’s Edible Skyline rooftop farm will provide hands-on education and skill-building in organic fruit and vegetable production. Partnering with first floor building tenants, we will produce and distribute healthy, nutrient dense whole food products to the Near South Side Milwaukee neighborhood.

The first floor of the Milwaukee Fix building will be home to two whole food dairy processors: Purple Door ice cream and Clock Shadow Creamery (owned and operated by Bob Wills of Cedar Grove Creamery).  Purple Door, owned and operated by Lauren and Steve Schultz, was started in 2010 and can currently be found at famer’s markets, Outpost and other area Milwaukee retailers such as Beans & Barley, Sendik’s and Groppi’s markets. The new processing facility will allow the Schultz’s to spend more time with their growing family instead of driving to Racine to make their sweet product. Purple Door will be sharing space with Clock Shadow Creamery, the first urban cheese facility in the state - and one of few in the nation!  Clock Shadow will host an apprenticeship program, supporting the nation’s next generation of cheesemakers.  The cheese processing facility will offer public viewing spaces to education consumers on the cheese making process and the importance of knowing where your ingredients come from.

In addition to processing dairy products on site, there will be a small deli on the first floor to sell these products as well as value-added options (think salads, sandwiches and salsas) using rooftop-grown produce.  This “food hub” model is part of a rapidly growing movement across the United States to connect consumers with producers and shorten the distance from farm to fork.  We will be growing and producing herbs, fruits, vegetables, and cheeses in the building while distributing through local restaurants, corner stores and our own on-site deli. Possibilities abound for joint marketing, volunteer discounts and “Deli Days” featuring in-season products at lower cost.  As construction crews continue working through the snow-less winter days, we are still on schedule to move in mid-March and it’s likely the deli will be up and running before the year end.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Construction Update

The building at 538 S. 2nd St has its exterior nearly finished.   The recycled cream city brick building will be home to, among other exciting things, the Edible Skyline project of CORE/El Centro. In addition to on-site geothermal heating and grey water retention/recycling, this Living Building will use passive cooling and ventilation strategies to keep energy costs down. Our 3,000 square foot rooftop farm is another energy- and water-saving aspect of the building.  Access to the roof will be available via the open-concept, sunlit staircase or the nation's first-ever energy regenerative Otis elevator. The elevator, currently in use in China, will actually feed energy back INTO the energy grid to support lighting, computers and other electrical equipment.  Please visit for other building information, including the innovative funding structure and more information about building tenants. CORE/El Centro is also updating construction photos on its website.

Our rooftop farm is part of a 7,000 square foot rooftop which will also offer a small movement space (for evening yoga or meditation groups) and a 2,000 square foot meditation garden looking out on Lake Michigan. As the Plan above shows, there will be space for composting and educational demos, as well as some seating areas.  The meditation garden (shown here on the far right section of the rooftop) will also have seating and possibly a water fountain or other landscaping elements.  There are also plans to offer the rooftop area for event rentals, celebrations and/or corporate gatherings.  This innovative space is intended for public use and involvement. Rosheen Styczinski, FASLA, of New Eden Landscape Architecture, LLC has been working with the building developer and myself to design the rooftop elements. Construction is currently on schedule and CORE/El Centro is planning to open its new doors on Monday, March 19th.  We have much planning and organizing to do until then - stay tuned for more updates.