By Margot C. Lester, Staff Writer
â€œThe pickles must be out of the jar,â€ quipped Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Valerie Foushee as she called to order the groundbreaking ceremony for the Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center in Hillsborough last Wednesday.
The food-centric remark got a laugh from the crowd of almost 80 on hand at 500 Valley Forge Road, the site of what will be a $1.2-million, 10,400-square-foot commercial kitchen for farmers and food entrepreneurs, particularly those within a 75-mile, 22-county radius. The center will open in March to the delight of local food-preneurs.
â€œWe know that there are some food entrepreneurs who travel to Asheville to utilize the processing center at Asheville-Buncombe Tech, and we are continually taking phoneÂ inquiries form new prospects,â€ said Brad Broadwell, director of Orange County Economic Development. â€œIn our initial feasibility study I believe there were over 40 respondents who said they would utilize this facility.â€
A few of them were in the crowd, including Richard Holcomb, owner of Coon Rock Farm, and Zely & Ritz restaurant. Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens was beaming. â€œWeâ€™re one of theÂ few counties with a growing number of farms, thriving farmersâ€™ markets and restaurants using local items. This facility provides a missing link to an important sector of our local economy. What a delight to have it in the happening town of Hillsborough.â€