Gov. Charlie Baker meets an employee at Commonwealth Kitchen in Dorchester.

Credit: Craig LeMoult/WGBH News

Charlie Baker In The Kitchen

April 11, 2017

Gov. Charlie Baker visited an urban agriculture incubator in Dorchester Monday for to see firsthand how some recent state grant recipients have spent some of the state's investment in their work.

At the Commonwealth Kitchen, Baker met a baker — Teresa Maynard, the owner of a fledgling business called Sweet Teez. It’s one of about 50 companies using the kitchen facilities at this food business incubator, and she’s also taken the training they offer.

“I was like, 'Oh, I’m going to start a bakery, how hard can that be'," she said. "Oh, clueless. You can only Google so much. And then I found Food Biz 101. And it was like all the things I didn’t know.”

Teresa Maynard of Sweet Teez (right) with Gov. Baker, as Commonwealth Kitchen Executive Director Jen Faigel looks on.
Photo Credit: Craig LeMoult/WGBH News

That 101 class was one of the projects funded by the state's $3 million urban agenda budget. Baker has awarded 16 economic development and housing projects across 13 communities. 

Commonwealth Kitchen has received several awards over the last few years, using over $200,000 in grants on specialized equipment and improvements to its facilities to bolster its services to urban farms. The organization also produces farm fresh food products for schools and other institutions, providing locally grown produce to low-income populations.

The state's grant program looks to build partnerships between community organizations to aid workforce development efforts, encourage entrepreneurship and build more mixed-income housing.

Gov. Baker tries out a food mill purchased for Commonwealth Kitchen with state grant money.
Photo Credit: Craig LeMoult/WGBH News

“Their ability to leverage some of our money to make those investments on behalf of some of their startups has been very beneficial to them and to the startups, and I would argue to all of us," Baker said. "I mean, they have 150 people here, 70 percent of the business are women or minority owned, and I just think it’s really terrific.”

The state grants the kitchen uses for programs and equipment expire in June. Going forward, it’s up to the legislature to renew them in a tight budget season. 

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