The Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen provides an accessible space for startup food businesses looking to take their business to the next level. The licensed kitchen is open 24/7 to rent for affordable hourly rates and offers commercial-grade equipment. Growing Hope helps our kitchen renters navigate food safety regulations, licensing and permitting, and facilitates connections to new retail markets.

The following steps are required to rent the Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen:

1.Tour the facility and meet with our MarketPlace Manager, Elisa Marroquin. To get in touch fill out the Kitchen Rental Inquiry Form and tell us more about what you would like to do in our kitchen.

2. Show proof of valid ServSafe Manager’s Certificate – or take the course to obtain one.

3. Register your business with the State of Michigan (applications can be found at This process will provide you with the necessary EIN/Tax ID Number needed for your business.

After you have taken a tour, completed the registration of your business and have a ServeSafe Certificate follow these steps: 

  1. Apply for your food license through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) or Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD).  
    • Packaged products require licensing by MDARD. The MDARD Licensing application can be found here. Contact MDARD AT 1-800-292-3939. Be sure to read MDARD’s New Business Guide prior to contacting them. 
    • Ready-to-eat products require licensing by WCHD. Contact WCHD at 734-222-3800.
    • We can help you identify which category your product falls under if you are unsure.
    • You cannot utilize kitchen space until you have been inspected and approved by MDARD or WCHD.
  1. Create Standard Operating Procedures and Critical Control Points for making your product; you will need these for your inspection/licensing.

3. Purchase insurance. Growing Hope requires a $1 Million general liability policy that names Growing Hope as co-insured; such insurance policies generally run between $300-$500 per year and will be required by many events, retailers, vendors, and businesses you work with. You will need to provide a copy of your insurance certificate before starting in the kitchen

4. Once you have applied for the appropriate license and obtained liability insurance, your respective licensing agent (from MDAR or WCHD) will contact you to schedule a licensing inspection meeting. At that time, contact our MarketPlace Manager to schedule use of the kitchen for the licensing inspection meeting.

  • The meeting with your licensor will take place in the Incubator Kitchen and will last around 1‐2 hours. During this time, the licensor will observe your food preparation and offer suggestions and guidance. At the end of the licensing meeting, the licensor may approve you immediately (and give you a temporary license) or require additional steps. A flat rate of $25/hour will be charged for the licensing meeting.
    • Note: Plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to your licensing meeting to receive a kitchen orientation from our MarketPlace Manager. This will include a review of our procedures, introduction to our kitchen equipment and supplies, and generally getting familiar and comfortable with the space. Doing this in advance of your licensing meeting will enable you to make efficient use of your time with the licensor.

5. Pay a $100 security deposit (you will pay this after you are licensed but before you begin working).

6. Once all requirements are met (license and insurance completed, deposit paid, and Rental Agreement formally signed by you and our MarketPlace Manager) you are ready to reserve time in the Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen!


 Kitchen Rental Checklist:  

  • Tour the Ypsilanti Farmers Marketplace facility with the MarketPlace Manager
  • Provide ServSafe Manager’s certificate
  • Secure commercial liability insurance
  • Apply for commercial licensing (MDARD or WCHD)
  • Schedule a kitchen orientation and a licensing meeting to follow
  • Obtain license through licensing meeting
  • Pay $100 deposit
  • Sign the Kitchen Rental Agreement form
  • Schedule and reserve kitchen space


The Growing Hope Incubator Kitchen is supported by Nichols Charitable Fund, Sandy Garges and Jeff Kersten, Ralph Wilson Foundation, , and

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