Island Grown Initiative finally has a kitchen of its own. The nonprofit announced this week that it has purchased the Kitchen Porch catering business in Edgartown from chef and educator Jan Buhrman, a longtime supporter who helped found the group in 2004.

The acquisition, finalized Dec. 12, includes a fully-equipped commercial kitchen — complete with professional baking equipment — as well as storage and office space, a retail storefront, two company vehicles and Ms. Buhrman’s recipes.

Buying Kitchen Porch will allow IGI to prepare and preserve Island produce directly from the fields, executive director Rebecca Haag told the Gazette Tuesday.

“This gives us a year-round commercial kitchen that will help us feed people on the Island who face food insecurity,” Ms. Haag said. “We’re interviewing now to find a full-time chef, so that somebody will be there all the time to supervise our volunteers.”

IGI representatives did not disclose the purchase price.

With the commercial kitchen the nonprofit hopes to create 70,000 meals a year. — Ray Ewing

For years, Island Grown has bounced from one commercial kitchen to another, including Ms. Buhrman’s and the one at Camp Jabberwocky, borrowing facility time after hours and off-season to produce soups, stews and baby foods for a growing number of hungry Vineyarders.

Prepared by volunteers, the meals are distributed through the Island Food Pantry, Councils on Aging, schools, churches, libraries and other community organizations on the Vineyard. The food pantry has seen the need for its services double since merging with Island Grown two years ago and now has 3,200 registered clients, according to IGI.

At Kitchen Porch, Ms. Haag said, Island Grown aims to turn out more than 60,000 meals in 2023, using produce donated by Vineyard growers and gleaned by IGI volunteers.

“We know we can easily make 60,000 to 70,000 meals a year, just during [regular] work hours,” she said.

Having a year-round kitchen, complete with freezer storage, will make it possible to both prepare fresh meals and preserve seasonal harvests at their peak, when fresh crops are so abundant they’re at risk of going to waste.

“When the kale comes in, you know, there’s only so much kale one person can eat in one sitting,” Ms. Haag said.

The business’s A street location — part of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport business park — is another plus for IGI, Ms. Haag said.

“We’re very happy to be at the airport and to be centrally located. It’s a great place to unload trucks, so we can store stuff for the Island Food Pantry,” she said.

With its food pantry in Oak Bluffs, offices in West Tisbury and farm that has land in both towns as well as Tisbury, Island Grown had been seeking to create a comprehensive food center that could house its services and offices as well as a kitchen, storage and small eatery for food-insecure Islanders.

But in the absence of suitable existing space, building anew would be a costly and time-consuming prospect for the organization, Ms. Haag said.

“This was such a win-win because it allowed us to avoid a long process of construction and permitting and the cost of that,” she said.

Using what’s already on hand is also more in keeping with the Island Grown philosophy: “We’re about regenerative,” Ms Haag said.

“As a nonprofit, we want to direct our money to feeding people, to educating the kids in the schools, to producing great nutritious food at the farm,” she said.

The idea of buying Kitchen Porch arose during a meal with Ms. Buhrman earlier this year, Ms. Haag said.

“The moment we started talking about it it just made so much sense,” Ms. Haag said. “Just because we’re a nonprofit doesn’t mean we can’t find creative solutions.”

The catering shop’s storefront will initially be used for storage, but could become a take-out counter with affordable prices for Islanders with limited food budgets, Ms. Haag said.

The Kitchen Porch purchase includes membership in the West Tisbury Farmers Market, which Ms. Haag said could become a way for the nonprofit to raise money by selling prepared and preserved foods from the kitchen.

The farmers’ market is where Ms. Buhrman first started her business in 1985, selling sauces she had discovered while traveling the world and recreated in her Chilmark kitchen — pesto, peanut sauce, gado gado and the like — using as much Island produce as she could. Over the years, as she deepened connections with growers and customers alike, Ms. Buhrman began cooking full meals and, in 2000, made the leap to the A street location.

“It was just an empty shell when I got it,” Ms. Buhrman told the Gazette.

Once the kitchen was up and running, Ms. Buhrman was on her way to becoming a sought after caterer for weddings and parties, while continuing to produce carry-out meals for the farmers’ market and her storefront.

“I’ve served 650 [people], and two,” she said.

In 2004, Ms. Buhrman said she was among the Islanders who gathered to plan what became Island Grown Initiative.

“Jan has been engaged with IGI for a long time,” Ms. Haag said. “She’s committed to the work.”

Originally founded to support local farmers, IGI has grown to encompass crop production, nutrition education, food waste collection and hunger prevention among its programs.

Ms. Buhrman said she’s excited by the organization’s shift from sustainable to regenerative agriculture, which she described as “making the world better, rather than just status quo.”

With Kitchen Porch sold, Ms. Buhrman plans to remain on the Vineyard — where she recently became grandmother to a baby girl — and to continue offering nutrition classes and retreats with her teaching partner John Bagnulo of Vermont.

She’ll also host cooking classes on Island, Ms. Buhrman told the Gazette, and she hopes to share her experience with others by mentoring small businesses.

“I want to renew and restore myself, so that I can give back to the community in a really positive way,” she said.