On March 3rd, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan gave an informative speech about USDA’s ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative to a packed crowd of Portland State University (PSU) students and faculty. As both a PSU graduate student of Public Administration and a new employee with USDA Rural Development in Oregon, I was impressed by USDA’s active role in creating solutions to some of our most pressing national and global issues. Read more »
Shed Two at Detroit’s Eastern Market
Look up Wayne County, Michigan, home to Detroit, in USDA’s Food Environment Atlas and it is obvious that local residents have some significant challenges in accessing healthful food. An alarmingly high number of households that lack a car in Wayne County are located further than one mile from the closest grocery store, meaning that many families struggle to get access to fresh and healthy food. Read more »
One afternoon in the fall of 2003, 36 consumers and several volunteers gathered in the basement of an Oklahoma City church to sort and purchase products from twenty local producers. They generated $3,500 in sales, and the opening day of the Oklahoma Food Coop (OFC) was determined to have been a great success.
Today, seven years later, OFC has over 3,000 members and processes up to 700 orders monthly. The participating producers – all two hundred of them – generate about $70,000 in monthly sales from 4,000 locally produced products. The organization manages storage space, a warehouse and owns several trucks. It has transformed from a small buying club to a formal food hub. Read more »
A core component of any food hub is making sure that products can get from the farm to the table, a complex task involving perishable goods, cold storage, varying scales of supply and demand, and, of course, the occasional flat tire.
A number of food hubs have taken this challenge on utilizing diverse approaches, including a particularly impressive non-profit organization in Charlottesville, Virginia: Local Food Hub. Directed by the entrepreneurial Kate Collier and Marisa Vrooman, it is addressing three major issues in the local food system: distribution, supply and access. Read more »
Here at USDA we are looking for ways that we can help build and strengthen regional and local food systems. As we talk to farmers, producers, consumers, processors, retailers, buyers and everyone else involved in regional food system development, we hear more and more about small and mid-sized farmers struggling to get their products to market quickly and efficiently. And more and more we hear that these same producers need access to things like trucks, warehouses, processing space, and storage. These things require capital investment, infrastructure maintenance and dedicated oversight – things that small and mid-sized producers often can’t afford or manage themselves.
One answer to help regional producers may be a ”food hub.” Read more »
By Vicki Walker, USDA Rural Development Oregon State Director
Victor Vasquez, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, delivered a strong, upbeat message to grant recipients at the Community Services Consortium Youth House Gardens in Corvallis, Oregon on July 12. The Deputy Under Secretary was in Oregon to highlight the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, and to emphasize the importance of Rural Development programs in delivering on economic recovery efforts. Read more »