In 2009, Iso Rabins founded the Underground Market, a members-only underground farmer’s market in San Francisco intended to help budding food entrepreneurs get started without dealing with red tape. It was a success. By 2011, it was being held in a warehouse gallery with 47 vendors and over 1,200 attendees. The market was shut down by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Rabins is in the process of reviving it, but in the meantime, he’s launching a complementary venture: a coworking space for food.
Dubbed Forage Kitchen, the coworking space raised over $13,000 by its third day on Kickstarter (the campaign runs until June 29th). The ultimate goal is to raise $150,000 for the 10,000-square-foot space in San Francisco, which will feature a commercial kitchen, meat-curing rooms, offices, a brewery, a retail space, a rooftop garden (maybe), and plenty of business support.
It will be a boon to food entrepreneurs, sure, but the space will also welcome hobbyists. Like the Food Craft Institute, also located in the Bay Area, Forage Kitchen will offer workshops on topics like butchering and jam-making.
The space will be cheaper than many traditional coworking spaces, which can charge upwards of $400 per month for full-time memberships. The Forage Kitchen is charging just $99 a month for more casual non-business users, and $25 per month for access to classes and parties.
Rabins explains on the Kickstarter page: "Forage Kitchen is the first co-working space for food. More than a shared use kitchen, it will be a home for food makers, and a hub for the Bay Area food community. A philosophically focused space, where local food producers can start their projects with the support of others going through the same struggles. … This space will be a model for other spaces world-wide, and we’re super excited to see it happen."
Forage Kitchen may end up being the first full-fledged coworking space for food, but there are others trying to achieve similar goals. Local Food Lab, a local food incubator that we wrote about in April, also hopes to eventually have food preparation facilities for dues-paying members.