A rural county in eastern Virginia is making news with its Cook’s Corner community development project that will purchase more than half of its raw ingredients – seafood, meat, produce and hops – from Virginia farmers. The purchases will total around $600,000 in the first three years.
Led by executives from the Rappahannock Oyster Company and Shamin Hotels, the Cook’s Corner project includes a new commissary kitchen located in the former Rappahannock Central Elementary School cafeteria in Middlesex County, as well as a new brewery and restaurant in a relocated and renovated historic African American schoolhouse. The project also includes the renovation and repurposing of two historic school buildings, the establishment of new community facilities, and the construction of water and sewer infrastructure. In addition, 24 units of affordable, workforce housing will help attract and retain skilled workers in the region.
The Cook’s Corner project has received funding to date from multiple state and federal resources. Governor Northam approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) that Middlesex County will match.
“If we are going to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050, we need to look at agriculture differently,” said Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, VDACS Commissioner. “Nothing ever will replace traditional farming, but creative, sustainable programs like Cook’s Corner certainly have a place at the table. This is great news not only for Virginia’s seafood, meat, produce and hops producers, but to everyone who enjoys the incredible bounty from the state’s farms and waters.”