Earth Elements Entrepreneurs' Kitchen(E3K) is Oklahoma City's Commercial Kitchen for Rent. Our shared-use facility was established in 2011, to serve a variety of food manufacturing clients, caterers and as a mobile food unit commissary.
Our journey to establish a community kitchen in OKC begins with the eminent domain of Earth Elements Market and Bakery (EEMB) in Lexington, OK. EEMB was the sister company to Earth Elements Farm (EEF). Earth Elements Farm started in 1998 as a certified organic farm growing herbs and produce. In 1999, we built our first 320 sq ft commercial kitchen to preserve and jar the bounties from our gardens. In 2003, we expanded our kitchen to include the Strawbale Bakery, we increased our product line to include baked goods and more preservation for other area farmers. Over time, the need for preservation was greater than the need to farm and we transitioned into solely a food production and an education company. Becoming a producer for the Oklahoma Food Cooperative expanded our customer base and sales increased to the point we out grew our facility. In 2007, we started construction on the dream kitchen, The EEMB.
The EEMB was a 2,400 sq ft production kitchen and distribution center. It was a unique structure of my design, built out of AAC (aerated autoclave concrete) with a single slope roof for rain water catchment, rubber floors, motion lighting, wing walls for air movement and a wraparound porch supported by trees removed from the property to build the EEMB. It was built to be as sustainable as possible. In late 2007, we opened the doors and concentrated on expanding our product line to include frozen vegetables and fruits, Heat & eat meals and increased the processing to include co-packing.
We shared our facility with several businesses, Bob’s Bulgar and Seitan, Briarberry Farms, A couple of jelly and jam makers and a specialty bread baker. It was an exciting time, we worked with Farm to School and served multiple farmers markets across the state. Our production increased to over 300 different types of products and we proudly averaged purchasing 44% of our ingredients from Oklahoma farmers. It was a wild ride for a few years and made we made a huge impact on the blooming local food industry.
However, in 2009 we received the letter that would change our path. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation informed us of their plans to widen Highway 77 and start eminent domain proceedings. With very little equity and very unreasonable offers from the state our future looked dim and the next few years were probably the hardest I have ever experienced. Battling the state for fair compensation was challenging and exhausting. Our customers and community rallied and spoke out, made phone calls and wrote letters their actions made a huge difference in our survival. Which I will always be grateful for that support. We were almost to bankrupt when we were blessed with three of the most loyal, wonderful women, offering to invest in the relocation of Earth Elements. It was at their request and encouragement that I expand the rental kitchen component of Earth Elements. And hope was revived and the challenges of relocating were met head-on.
For many years, Earth Elements had worked with Matt Burch of Urban Agrarian, Matt and I worked with the same farmers and we worked cooperatively to help each other’s business grow. Matt encouraged me to move Earth Elements to Oklahoma City and together we created the Earth to Urban Local Food Hub. Finding a home in a 1930’s produce warehouse in the then defunct Farmers Market District, just west of downtown OKC. We had our work cut out for us. The wonderful building that we located was a large open space, barrel roofed warehouse. In early 2011, I began construction of updating electric and plumbing and the buildng of an office room and a 1,200 square foot kitchen facility, designed with multiple stations to handle a variety of types of production.
The kitchen was constructed with as many of the materials we could save from the facility, ODOT planned to bulldoze and with the help of a few fellow capable hands, much determination, a bit of blood, sweat and tears, we managed to create a very special place.
In November of 2011, Earth to Urban Local Food Hub celebrated its grand opening, housing Oklahoma City’s first Commercial Kitchen for rent, the “E3K” Earth Elements Entrepreneurs’ Kitchen and Urban Agrarian’s first permanent market space. Creating a unique environment of multiple businesses sharing the same work space.
Upon opening, the new kitchen provided a production facility for several new start-up businesses; Della Terra Pasta, Towhead Salsa and Kize Bars to name a few.
Over the years, E3K has had all types of tenants, some have found a permanent home here while others have grown to build out their own facilities. Some maintain as seasonal businesses while others have grown to full time production. We offer a variety of customizable services for most types of food products and are here to support and encourage a local food system.
Our journey to get here was a tough one, which gives us a good understanding of what it takes to build a strong, solid business. We defiantly relate to the old adage “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Earth Elements like to takes things one step further and enjoy that cool glass of lemonade while planting seeds to grow more lemon trees. Sharing our experiences and determination to help others grown successful businesses.
In January 2016, the EEMB product line retired to allow time for consulting and mentoring in all aspects of the local food industry, food production, value adding and small business start-ups. Our goals are focused on aiding others to achieve their dreams and provide our community with healthy food options and building a strong local economy.
Thank you for learning about our journey. We hope to inspire you to reach for your hearts desires.
Founder of Earth Elements
Located in the Earth 2 Urban Local Food Hub @1235 SW 2nd Street, OKC, OK 73108
405-231-1919 ext 2 (Messages left on the general number will not be returned, you MUST press 2)
Earth Elements Entrepreneurs Kitchen | 1235 SW 2nd Oklahoma City OK 73108 USA | 1.405-231-1919 ext 2 | firstname.lastname@example.org