Farmers who what to diversify the crops they offer and sell to larger wholesale and institutional accounts are today all but shut out of those markets due to regulations and industry consolidation.
Shoppers who want to support local farmers and buy the freshest local products from farmers they know and trust have the limited options of roadside markets, CSAs or weekly community Farmers' markets.
A food "hub"...a term now unfamiliar to most...has the possibility of resolving some of these issues while potentially providing economic development opportunities for Hancock and surrounding counties of the region.
By definition, a food hub is a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.
They can provide wider access to institutional and retail markets for small to mid-sized producers, and increasing access of fresh healthy food for consumers, including underserved areas and food deserts.
Food hubs are really about providing adequate infrastructure to allow individual farmers to successfully market and distribute their farm products into today's centralized marketplace. That may be one reason to consider the establishment of a food hub in Hancock County.
On July 6,2011 at 6:30 pm the Purdue Extension Office of Hancock County will host a rebroadcast of a recent webinar of The Good Food Network for those who would like to learn more and perhaps consider whether or not this concept might be possible and have nutritional, social and economic benefits for us right here in Hancock County.
There are many successful examples of food hubs across the country-some serving a few farmers with a few hundred thousand dollars in gross sales...some serving many farmers with millions of dollars in gross sales.
This upcoming webinar provides a clear illustration of the variety of models that exist, the outcomes they offer, and a sense of their viability, focusing on key elements of successful food hubs. It weaves together the experiences of two very different innovative hubs with the draft results of the first comprehensive US food hub study to tell this exciting story of how food hubs are a lynchpin in a regional food system.
Presenters include James Barham, USDA AMS , John Fisk, Wallace Center at Winrock International, Kate Collier, Local Food Hub, Virginia and Dan Carmody, Eastern Market, Detroit.
At 8:00 the recorded presentation will end and local participants will have the opportunity to "meet" Jim Barham an Agricultural Economist for the Marketing Services Division of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in a live webinar discussion and have the opportunity to ask questions about the recent finding of the ongoing study about food hubs or about the realities of how a community can develop and fund such a facility over the long haul.
Additionally, Marty Gerencer of the Wallace Center, the lead coordinator of the National Good Food Network, will be on hand toprovide herperspective and also talk about the National Good Food Network and the resources they offer.
This program is free and open to anyone with an interest in finding ways to provide the highest quality of food to their families while growing our local economy and perhaps increasing employment in food related enterprises.
If you are interested in attending please preregister (no charge) by calling the Purdue Extension office in Hancock County or by e-mail to email@example.com
The program will only be held if there is sufficient interest expressed through preregistration by July 5, 2011.
The Hancock County Extension office is located at 802 North Apple Street in Greenfield, Indiana...Just north of the County fairgrounds.
As posted by Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, on April 19, 2011 USDA BlogFood Hubs: Creating Opportunities for Producers Across the Nation, "In short, food hubs are not a flash in the pan. They are incredibly innovative business models specifically addressing some of our producers' most overwhelming challenges."