Got a recipe you’d like to market? Think you’re the next big thing in salsa?
Why not find out?
The Monongalia County Commission is cooking up a plan to place a commercial kitchen in the Monongalia County Extension Service and 4-H Center, located in Mylan Park.
The kitchen would not only provide the ability for food to be prepared on-site for events using the new building and neighboring Hazel & J.W. Ruby Community Center, but it would also be rentable as a test kitchen for would-be entrepreneurs.
“If you have a recipe that you want to develop and test market, this is the kind of facility you would be able to rent to develop and test that product,” Commission President Ed Hawkins said. “Or say you have a known quantity that you want to make a variation on … If you have apples, you can sell apples. If you can make applesauce, you can sell that all year-round.”
Ron Justice, representing the Mylan Park Foundation, said the 4-H Center — which houses WVU Extension Services and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture on its second floor — has already become a valuable resource. He said adding the kitchen would only enhance its appeal to event organizers.
“In what we were looking at, just from the small events side, we feel we could rent that for you 30-40 times a year with no question from what we’ve seen right now,” Justice said, adding, “there will be an indoor farmers market there through the winter months and into April. So even for something like that it would be great to be able to provide a concession area or allow people to serve there, so we see a lot of value added.”
The project is anticipated to come in around $400,000 between building out the kitchen space — which was planned for during the building’s construction — and the purchase of equipment.
Hawkins said he plans to approach WVU about providing $100,000 this fiscal year and next per a previous verbal commitment. H.R. Scott, representing WVU Extension, said he is exploring USDA grant opportunities.
According to Justice, the kitchen isn’t the only project in the works at Mylan Park, noting a 45,000-square-foot addition to the community center is being explored, as is the creation of an RV Park.
The $4.7 million 4-H and extension building was completed in 2019. The project was financed through the Mylan Park Foundation but has since been paid off by the county, which maintains a lease-purchase agreement with Mylan Park.
The building has 4,260 square feet of indoor space and is attached to a 15,000-square-foot covered pavilion.