Tess’ Community Farm Kitchen – the dream of Brentwood attorney Barbara Franz – was recently granted its 501c3 non-profit status, bringing Franz’s vision of a community kitchen one step closer to fruition.
“It’s all very exciting and positive,” said Franz. “We’re hoping this is the first step toward Agra-tourism here in Brentwood.”
The farm kitchen site – located on 10 acres at the corner of Bixler and Balfour roads (across from The Lakes in Discovery Bay) – is named for Franz’s mother Tess. The kitchen will operate as a co-op, allowing residents to create pies, jams, jellies and syrups prepared from local farms to sell at market – thereby providing a venue for smaller farmers to generate potentially thousands of extra dollars annually from bruised or raggedy-looking fruits that wouldn’t be sellable, but would make a perfect fruit product.
“Farmers aren’t cooks; they’re farmers,” said Franz. “They want a place where they can drop off their products and pick them up again to sell.”
But because the kitchen would potentially provide a private benefit to the farmers, Franz said the IRS wouldn’t grant it a nonprofit status. So while the kitchen project remains a for-profit venture that will include such items as Internet sales and the eventual sale of products produced in the kitchen, the nonprofit end of things will include public education, trips to local U-Picks in Brentwood, and cooking classes.
“So how it will work is that all the produce, grapes, berries, et cetera will belong to the nonprofit,” said Franz. “And the use of those items by selling will be the for-profit end of things and will go toward the operation and benefit of the nonprofit.”
And the next step in the process is to raise money to build the kitchen. “We’ll be conducting our classes in rented kitchens for now, such as the Brentwood Senior Center and Knightsen School,” said Franz. “And then, when we get to a place where we can get a loan, we’ll start to build.”
Another way to raise the much-needed dollars is through fundraising events such as that scheduled for April 23 at the kitchen location. Called Campfire Tales, the evening will be geared to children and feature a bonfire, s’mores, cornbread and chili plus a professional storyteller.
And while Franz has been told that her property is technically an orchard and not a farm (“I’ve been told that 40 acres constitutes a farm. And anything under is an orchard”), her dreams for Tess’ remain the same. “The big point is this,” said Franz. “We are here in the heart of the absolute best produce in the land and we want people to be able to come out and pick their own products if they wish, and learn more about living healthy and eating healthy and enjoying all that Brentwood has to offer.”
For more information on Tess’ Community Farm Kitchen, visit www.farmmarket.tv. For ticket information on the upcoming fundraiser, call 925-628-6842.