Community, Cottage Grove

Bohemia Food Hub renovation plans blossom 

Employees of SuzEats Sweets baking delicious cookies at Bohemia Food Hub’s shared commercial kitchen, which houses baking equipment designed for massive batches.

COTTAGE GROVE – The only thing taller than the butterfly building’s ceilings is owner Kim Johnson’s dream for the business.

Renovation plans are being drawn to bring this big dream into a reality: Bohemia Food Hub (BFH) becoming an epicenter for all things food-business related.

At 106 S. 10th St., BFH operates as a shared commercial kitchen space, where entrepreneurs rent out space needed to run their food businesses. 

In September, The Chronicle announced that BFH would receive a Healthy Food Finance Initiative through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for $149,000. 

Johnson is still waiting on the funds and it is unknown when she will receive it. Upon disbursement, the funds will be used to build a 500-square foot walk-in cooler space and to purchase a refrigerated “reefer” truck.

With this equipment, BFH will begin growing operations to support local farmers and distribute food to places that need via delivery or via consumers picking up produce at the hub. 

“That’s the kind of work that we’re going to move on in the future … opening up the food hub to serve not just retail and wholesale food producers, but also our local farmers … We can create an ease in connecting the consumer to the producers,” said Johnson


Under this new model, farmers gain business and consumers gain access to local produce. A win for all involved.

In the meantime, BFH, along with partners Lane County Economic Development, South Valley Farmers Market, City of Creswell, Coast Fork Watershed Council and Lane Workforce Park Partnership, conducted a food producers survey to understand what produce is and is not being harvested in the Southern Willamette Valley so BFH can fill shortages identified.  

“One thing that came out of the pandemic is a lot of our supply was cut off and the potential was that we weren’t going to have access to these foods … it was a wake up call to look at what we have right here,” she said. 

The survey targeted farmers throughout Lane and North Douglas counties and in the first week, there were 103 participants.

According to Johnson, public schools have funds allocated for buying local produce, and BFH can be the intermediary between schools and farmers.

The front facade that will soon house four individual retail spaces

Another facet to Johnson’s vision is building retail spaces at the hub by converting the current window-covered facade into four mini brick-and-mortars for start up businesses to gain traction. 

“These four individual retail spaces will give us an opportunity to help incubate another model,” said Johnson. 

Renovations have been a decade in the making, with a budget of $ ½ M, with funding through grants and donations. Johnson estimates that all renovations will be completed in two years time. 

In addition to the four retail spaces, an outdoor patio will be added to the courtyard on the south side of the building. 

To make use of the hub’s tall ceilings, Johnson wants to add rentable office space and seating on a second level, featuring tables made out of redwood planks. 

Redwood planks that Johnson will soon turn into counters and tables

Across the street, the BFH food truck space can accommodate six food trucks, in which Johnson hopes to incorporate food education into the business model by next year. This idea had been in the making for the last three years, as Johnson has been collaborating with Cottage Grove High School (CGHS) to form a program that introduces students into the food business. 

“The ideal would be that we work with all three high schools (CGHS, Kennedy and Child’s Way Charter School) and have a model where kids can come and work an existing food truck to just get that workforce experience … learning how to clean, learning how to run the cash register, learning how to do basic prep things,” said Johnson, hoping to inspire kids to go into the food business as careers and possible help design and run a food truck.

“That’s kind of dreamy, but I think it’s possible,” she said. 



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