Western Mass. Food Processing Center to mark 20 years with Saturday celebration

  • Onions are processed at the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation on Wells Street in Greenfield last month. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Onions are processed at the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation on Wells Street in Greenfield last month. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Report
Published: 10/21/2021 2:06:53 PM

GREENFIELD — Between marking two decades in operation and being named Manufacturer of the Year, 2021 has been one for the books for the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center.

To celebrate, the 324 Wells St. facility will welcome the community on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. Guests can tour the 5,000-square-foot building, sample some of the foods that are produced there, meet current clients and hear remarks from staff, clients and public officials starting at 1:30 p.m.

The Franklin County Community Development Corporation (CDC) built the facility in 2001, according to a press release from Development and Communications Manager Helen Perham. Operating with 10 employees, the Food Processing Center helps entrepreneurs to launch specialty food businesses and local farms to add value to their crops by manufacturing salsas, sauces, spreads and other products.

When a specialty food business enters the facility, its managers start by developing a business plan and scaling up their recipe to ensure they’ll be able to produce in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-certified facility using larger equipment, the release explains. During its two-decade run, more than 400 businesses have produced, shipped and/or used storage space in the Food Processing Center, including Real Pickles, Hillside Pizza, Chubby’s Sauces and Artisan Beverage Cooperative.

Additionally, the Food Processing Center now allows local farms to produce salsas, sauces, pesto, pickles and more at the Wells Street facility, the release continues. For example, Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland has produced in the facility for years before building its own processing center with guidance from Liz Buxton, operations director for the Food Processing Center. Kitchen Garden Farm still uses the facility to process tomatoes and peppers during the busy harvest season.

After being nominated by state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, through the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, the center received the Manufacturer of the Year award in September for the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester Senate district that Comerford represents.

“This is an unbelievable organization,” Comerford said in her Sept. 28 speech at the Wells Street facility. “Exceptional, unbelievable work.”




Greenfield Recorder

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