Food Processing

We raised nearly $1,000 in the first weekend of our online fundraising campaign and we’re looking forward to more small donations to build the first local food education and food processing center in Texas! We hope you’ll donate today. All donors will have their name on the wall (or you can remain anonymous).

Here is recent coverage of our progress in the news:

Donations Sought for Local Food Center, August, 2019

Proposed Food Center Seeks Funds, May, 2019

This article in the Austin Chronicle (March 8, 2019) highlights the latest players in the burgeoning Austin consumer packaged goods (CPG) world. We want the best of these companies to locate in Elgin where we have land, farms and a strong labor force. At the Texas Center for Local Food, we’re raising funds now to build the Elgin Local Food Center to provide jobs and opportunities for our region’s talented food entrepreneurs.

And yea, we want to help them buy from our Texas family farms! So hey you up and coming CPG companies, drop us a line.

Here is our homespun video describing our process for designing the Elgin Local Food Center. We created this video for the Iowa State University Community Food System Training program. 11 mins long. Look for more updates soon as we work hard to raise funds to build this fabulous new food processing and education center in rural Texas.

Also on our Vimeo site, you’ll find our other videos, some are home made and other a bit more polished. We hope you find our work worthwhile and that you’ll become a member today!

This article from Urban Food Futures gives a brief overview of the changes happening in our food system. Spoiler alert: high volume buyers make big differences in our food sourcing and eating. We would add the fabulous Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP)! We’re a proud member of the Austin area GFPP team with the City of Austin Office of Sustainability, UT Austin, Austin ISD, Huston-Tillotson University and the Austin Convention Center.

We’re writing to give you a quick update on our exciting progress!  First we’d like to ask you to become a member today if you’re not already. We hope we’ve earned your support to build a strong Texas local food system.  

Now on to the updates:
The Elgin Local Food Center (ELF) is gaining momentum.  We’re moving along with fundraising for the Elgin Local Food Center and Sue is meeting with a grant writer on February 26.  We’re in touch with the major local funders and hope to learn more about their level of interest in a few weeks. We have a local commitment of $800,000 and we need to raise $1.55M more!  As you know the ELF will be a shared use commercial kitchen and local food education center that will increase access to local healthy food in central Texas.

The ELF is a top recommendation in the new Food Hub Feasibility Study for Central Texas  The study identified the ELF as a key piece of infrastructure needed for processing local vegetables for sale to schools and other institutions. The ELF could be used as a micro-aggregation node, giving farmers a place to store their product for pickup by a truck heading into Austin to deliver.

Here’s an 11 minute video Sue made for Iowa State University on our design process for the Elgin Local Food Center.  This informal training video will be used by Iowa State in their Community Food Systems training program. Many of you star in the video!

Sue was honored to present our food system work at the Smithville EcoFair.  Lots of folks came out even though the weather was pretty cold and all were eager to learn about our work to improve healthy local food access in Elgin and Bastrop County.  Sue’s presentation will be available on our website by the end of February.

Sue also presented the new Beyond Fresh workbook at the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Conference in Corpus Christi.  Beyond Fresh is a guide on food processing for Texas farmers and food entrepreneurs.  The book was produced in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and is available as a free PDF download or for purchase at $19.95 here and is also available at the Elgin Public Library. if you live in Elgin and want to buy a copy, contact Sue at

Lastly we hope you’ll become a member of the Texas Center for Local Food or renew if you’re already a member!  Memberships start at just $20/year.  We hope we have earned your support and we’ll keep at it – together!  Our Federal funding ran out last fall and – with your support – we’re keeping on keeping on.

We’ll update you again in March!  Moving forward.. together,Sue and Travis

What is the approach taken by the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) in Texas?  On July 26, 2018, Sue Beckwith of TCLF joined others to present an introduction to value chain coordination at a webinar conducted by the Wallace Center.  Here’s a link to the webinar recording.  Sue’s part begins at 41:45.  There is a Q&A toward the end of the webinar that you might find interesting or useful.  One question that might be relevant to specific regions in Texas is the importance of a single point of contact as the coordinator.  A single point of contact is important to help buyers who are interested in purchasing local food have one person to call to help guide them through the process and connect with resources.  We’d love to hear your comments below!



When I asked a group today what value they would get from starting a new local food business, I heard “To take care of the world”, “To provide healthy food for our community”, “To support our local farms”, “Because homemade tastes better is is healthier and more tasty”, and “To bring our culture to the world”.

This group of 30 students in the Advocacy Outreach Family Literacy Program are super excited to start new food businesses.  Together they brainstormed ideas for products that would use locally grown ingredients:  Purple corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa, sweet potato empanadas, specialty cakes, fruit cups, tamales, and many more!

I shared our plans for the ELF – Elgin Local Food Center, a commercial kitchen and education center to be located in downtown Elgin, Texas.  There’s no doubt that these folks will open new businesses in the ELF.  We’re eager to finish funding this exciting new business development center and commercial kitchen.

Today’s presentation is part of our USDA Rural Business Development grant project to help rural business get started and succeed in our communities.  Advocacy Outreach will begin using the Beyond Fresh workbook developed in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), to be released in early 2019.

Have a great idea for a small food business, but don’t know where to start? Interested in Cottage Food Law and how to sell foods made in your home to the public? Then join the Texas Center for Local Food for an evening of lively discussion with Chris Johnson of Stellar Gourmet Foods, as he helps us navigate Cottage Food Law in Texas!

Event Description:

The Texas Center for Local Food proudly presents a Discussion of Texas Cottage Food Law.

This evening of discussion will be led by Chris Johnson, Chef Executive Cook of Stellar Gourmet. With Chris at the helm of Stellar Gourmet, the company has been able to expand from just a dream to a well-known brand with a product line that includes a diverse array of condiments, spices, pickles, jellies and sauces. Join us for a lively conversation about Chris’s personal experience navigating Cottage Food Law in Texas.

Topics for Discussion Include:

  • Texas Cottage Food Law
  • Starting a cottage food business
  • Selling cottage food products

Event Details

Lockhart Chamber of Commerce

Conference Room

702 S Commerce St

Lockhart, TX 78644

Tickets can be found at:

What are the real opportunities and gaps in the grass-fed beef industry in Texas?  This report from New York (2015) may inform our work in Texas.  If you have thoughts, please post comments below so we can all hear you.

We talk about the need for meat processing facilities, but maybe we need to do a more thorough value chain analysis first.  It could be that what ranchers need now is marketing and branding support.  Or it could be that we do, in fact, need additional processing infrastructure.

This 2015 report from Kitchen Table Consultants found that about half of the local processors had excess capacity.  Is that because the processors are bad at what they do or because demand just isn’t strong enough yet?

“During our survey, we asked the farmers “Are you currently able to produce enough to meet the demand for your product?” 9 out of 16 (56%) farmers said no, they could not produce enough product, and that they are selling out. The other seven said that they could use some help with marketing their product.”

This report on farmer/rancher satisfaction with meat processing facilities in Pennsylvania may also be useful since they surveyed actual satisfaction with existing processors. We can’t tell when this was written but it was posted in April, 2018.  For some reason they refer to “cattle” as “cows” and we don’t know why that is.  nonetheless this may provide a model for research we could undertake in Texas.

A great resource for small meat processors is the Niche Meat Processors Network.

And a not so pleasant report on Slaughterhouse Worker Employment.

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