Food Hubs

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= central locations where goods and produce can be aggregated, processed and shared with consumers and institutions


Description

By Wayne Roberts, Lori Stahlbrand:

"The food hub concept, which is gaining traction throughout North America, holds the solution to a problem that continues to bedevil the local food movement, and that is lack of infrastructure. How can local growers, farmers and artisans aggregate, process, market and share their goods? How can they get what they grow and produce from their fields and home kitchens to the consumer’s dining table and local institutions? Food hubs are the missing link in the local food chain.

But food hubs come in many shapes and sizes, and usually evolve in response to the size and needs of the community. On the one hand – in sharp contrast in terms of scale to the Palgrave and Everdale efforts – there’s Toronto’s FoodShare. The 28-year-old nonprofit organization offers programs in nutrition, school lunches, workshops, markets, food boxes and much more, reaching 155,000 children and adults in the city every month under the rubric of “good healthy food for all.” How food hubs will evolve in smaller rural communities like those in Caledon, Erin and Dufferin is difficult to predict. An exact definition of a food hub is hard to articulate, says Eat Local Caledon’s Karen Hutchinson. “We’re in the first generation and nobody knows where it’s going.” (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-03-05/the-case-for-food-hubs#)

Example

Australia

Interview by Darren Sharp:

"In Australia Food Hubs exist at all shapes and sizes – they are essentially intermediaries that facilitate access to local food. It’s about getting food from local farmers to local people. So as a customer you get access to food from a bunch of local farmers that you can identify through radical transparency.

Food Hubs are community-led, ethically-driven and accountable to the people they serve. It’s about putting power over the food system back into the hands of the community and local farmers. It could be anything from a buyers’ group, to a large warehouse or regional produce player.

We want lots of these Food Hubs to emerge so we can get distributed activity occurring to provide alternatives for the community and challenge the mainstream food industry. The Open Food Network is addressing this by developing tools and software that makes it easier to connect farmers, food hubs and the community.

The first thing we’re trying to do is develop flexible tools as everyone will come up with slightly different solutions and business models depending on their local context. The next part of it lies in the power of networks. We see the opportunity for farmers to be linked by multiple Food Hubs, which is part of how you open up the marketplace.

By lowering the cost of connecting and transacting you’re actually giving power back to the farmers. In terms of governance, the farmer and the customer gets to choose who they want to do business with and have a stake in. By reducing the barriers to entry we’re hoping to see more diverse options emerge in the food system.

People often ask us how we will ‘control’ who uses the system. We don’t want to take on an ‘accreditation’ task – we do want it to be easier for people to choose who they trade with and buy through based on information and recommendations from others. Eventually we’re hoping to get to the point of having peer-to-peer recommendations. So it’s not the software’s responsibility to ‘accredit’ that information but rather to support a transparent way for businesses to build up reputation through relationships." (http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-open-food-foundation-free-software-for-better-food-systems)