Farmer's helper: Local Food Hub opens
Back in February, after the Board of Supervisors turned down a request from the non-profit Local Food Hub for $80,000 in Economic Opportunity Funds, the Hub's director and founder Kate Collier worried it would doom the Hub.
"If funding doesn't come in the next month," she said, " the project won't happen this year; and momentum, qualified staff, and our energy may be lost."
What a difference a few months make.
Though the Supes didn't want to support the Local Food Hub, which will act as a wholesale customer to local farms and a distributor of local foods, plenty of others did, including the Nelson County Economic Development Authority and the Piedmont Environmental Council. In addition, a star-studded group of individuals and organizations stepped up to the plate, including Coran Capshaw, John Grisham, the Bama Works Fund, and the Blue Moon Fund.
On July 8, the Local Food Hub officially opened its warehouse space at the old Dettor Edwards building off Morgantown Road in Ivy, courtesy of landlord Capshaw. The 4,000 square-foot sector of the former grocery distribution center was fitted with 1,500 square-feet of refrigerated storage, 1,800 square-feet of cool and dry storage, as well as office space and a loading dock. The Hub also scored a refrigerated truck.
“It is built! We now have the capacity to move high volumes of fresh, ripe and healthy local food to the chefs, caterers and institutions that have been asking for a consistent and quality supply,” says Collier, who hopes the the Hub will be "a large and consistent wholesale customer to local farms, enabling established growers to expand production and afford new growers some security to get started."
Basically, the Hub will act as a middle-man who doesn't want to get paid. “We do not want to compete with our growers' ability to receive retail dollar for their food,” says Collier.
The Hub is also working directly with Cavalier Produce, a major local food distributor to area restaurants, who will offer the Hub's food to its customers. As for the refrigerated truck, Marisa Vrooman, the Hub's director of farmer services, says its for pick up food from farmers to save drive time. "Then they can focus," says Vrooman, "on growing."