New Beginnings in bradford
The Kearsarge Food hub has recently struck up a partnership with Mike Bauer and Mike James, hub enthusiasts and Bradford residents who have purchased the old Bradford Inn on West Main Street in Bradford. We share a vision to revive the old Bradford Inn and bring much-needed local food and community resources to Bradford and the surrounding Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee area. As the old Bradford Inn, or most recently the Thistle and Shamrock Inn, has been sitting idle and abandoned for over 10 years, we are thrilled at the opportunity to help bring this town icon back to life.
Currently our attention is set on developing the first floor as a local food and community resource center. Plans are still in the very beginning stages, so nothing is set in stone. The tentative plan consists of several different, yet connected, pieces:
Sweet Beet Market
We have moved Sweet Beet to this location, graduating from a seasonal roadside farm stand to a year-round indoor market. Goals for the Sweet Beet in the Inn include logistical improvements, such as creating and maintaining appropriate production, storage and distribution infrastructure, and building trust, cooperation, and shared standards amongst market contributors. Our aim is to be open 7 days a week, all year long, and this new space is one big step in that direction.
A couple months ago it came to our attention that a beloved bakery, German John's, based out of Hillsborough, NH was set to go out of business as owners John and Judy were looking to retire. It just so happens that one of our goals as a Food Hub is to bake daily bread for our community, and so it came to be that hub member Garrett Bauer would purchase the bakery's equipment and be trained on some of the most esteemed recipes held by German John's. Now the deal is done and we have the equipment, Garrett is looking forward to carrying on the legacy of German John's Bakery.
Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen
A primary goal of the Hub has long been to create greater capacity for processing farm waste and turning it into consumable goods, whether it be transforming the tomato abundance into sauce for the winter, pickling the bumper cucumber crop, or freezing berries that would otherwise go bad before consumption. We aim to install a shared-use commercial kitchen in the old Bradford Inn, to work in tandem with the bakery, cafe, and market, in order to make sure as much local food goes to good use as possible. This space won't be just for our use, but for local folks and organizations to rent out as needed to process garden excess, to host cooking classes or to make meals for local food pantries! It will also be a resource for small-businesses and food entrepreneurs seeking to use the kitchen's equipment to test out making value-added products, like jam, baked goods, or pickled items!
Shared Community Event Space
At the heart of our ambition to revive the old Bradford Inn is the desire, and real need, to create a space for the community to come together to share food, ideas, and conversation. We've heard from so many folks who have lived in Bradford for most, if not all, of their lives that when certain businesses left town years ago, such as the local grocery store, the town lost something more than a store - it lost a space for people to casually bump into one another, make plans, and connect. Now we've seen first-hand how Sweet Beet Market has, in many respects, filled that void. With a community event space, we could do even more to bring people together. And not just us, but anyone wishing to host or promote an event, from poetry reading to music to storytelling, can use this space to do so. We think this might be the most important aspect of the Bradford INNovation Project.
We are hoping to create space for a cafe to open in town! Everything is still tentative, so stay tuned in for developments.
And the other two floors..?
The old Bradford Inn is a pretty huge space, spanning 10,000 square feet and 3 floors. Building owners Mike Bauer and Mike James are taking renovations one phase at a time. Currently the focus is key building renovations and plans for the first floor. What the other two floors become has yet to be fully determined, but one thing that is certain is the developments will help support local businesses and generate income for the building. This could mean office space, shared work space, art space, and yoga and wellness space. Stay tuned for the latest developments!
Whatever will be working to develop this space in the years to come according to our guiding mission:
Our mission is to create a vibrant community hub wherein business innovation and community engagement is encouraged and supported on all levels. We are devoted to building a strong and accessible local food and community resource center through facilitating partnerships, sharing resources, building infrastructure, and creating opportunities for food-based and community-driven entities. We are committed to fostering an inclusive community space and cultivating the critical heart beet that powers our community.