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Unity Food Hub . A partnership between Maine Farmland Trust, local community development organizations, and local farmers .

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unity food hub

Unity Food Hub

A partnership between Maine Farmland Trust,

local community development organizations,

and local farmers

slide2

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.”

                  • (Source: USDA)
why unity
Why Unity?
  • Farming region (traditionally and currently).
  • In last 15 years, region has seen considerable growth in small farms selling direct.
  • The local market for direct sales is saturated. So farms must increasingly sell further a field—tiring, inefficient, unsustainable.
  • At same time, region is a USDA food desert.
  • BOTTOM LINE: New options needed for both farmers and consumers.
can some form of food hub help
Can some form of Food Hub help?
  • Food Hubs can take many different forms.
  • We envision a Food Hub for the Unity region that is principally designed to help local vegetable farmers access markets outside the immediate region.
  • But we are crafting the Food Hub so that it will also better serve local consumers, including low-income persons.
unity food hub1
Unity Food Hub

Five Spokes

  • The Packing Shed
  • The Cutting Board
  • The Food Depot
  • The Share
  • The Oasis
the packing shed
The Packing Shed
  • Facility for washing, bunching, topping, grading, and packing vegetables.
  • Initial focus on root crops, expanded over time.
  • Provides efficiencies not available to every small farmer.
  • Puts products in suitable form for broader marketing (by farmer, by distributor, or by the Hub—perhaps after minimal processing).
the cutting board
The Cutting Board
  • Provides minimal processing (peeling, chopping) of vegetable crops.
  • Puts products in form to capture institutional markets (which is a primary focus of Hub).

NOTES:

  • The Hub would market the Cutting Board’s products.
  • The Hub may distribute itself OR utilize existing distributors.
the food depot
The Food Depot
  • Central facility for cold and dry storage.
  • Holds products for Cutting Board operation.
  • Available as storage and pick-up site for distributors and institutions.
  • Available for storage by farms.
the share
The Share
  • Multi-farm CSA designed as a synergistic addition to other Hub functions.
  • Increases volume of local farm products handled and stored by Hub (Packing Shed, Food Depot).
  • Builds off Hub’s institutional marketing (for Cutting Board).
  • Also serves local community
    • Regular CSA members
    • New vehicle for Community Farm Share
the oasis
The Oasis
  • Community space organized around food

(to be used for workshops, trainings, and dinners, as well as for CSA pick-ups).

  • Includes retail outlet selling the local farm products that are stored at Hub.
  • Takes advantage of Hub’s facility in highly suitable building in ideal village location.
unity food hub summary

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.” (Source: USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, Regional Food Hub Subcommittee).

Unity Food Hub Summary
  • Vegetable aggregation and minimal processing facility intended to help Unity area farmers access broader markets.
  • Hub’s different “spokes” serve different functions, often synergistically.
  • Gives local farmers new ways to sell wholesale

(either to Hub or to distributor using Hub)

  • Keeps open option for local farmers to sell direct (while utilizing Hub to wash, pack, or store).
  • Utilizes (rather than duplicating) established local distributors.
partners roles
Partners & Roles
  • Maine Farmland Trust
  • Unity Barn Raisers
  • Trillium Redevelopment
  • Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)
  • Local farmers
  • Maine-based local foods distributors
  • Select institutions interested in buying
organizational structure
Organizational Structure

Eventually

  • Self-sustaining for-profit business serving local farmers. Might be organized as a L3C or farmer cooperative.

Initially

  • Created as a for-profit LLC owned by MFT, guided by participating farmers. This structure enables MFT investment on front end, and allows farmers to be actively engaged without burdening them with unwanted responsibilities.
overall goals
Overall Goals
  • To provide participating farmers with new markets.
  • To test new marketing and distribution options that will help build a better food system.
  • To test new business models that retain maximum benefits for participating farmers.
  • To increase community access to affordable locally-grown food.
status next steps
Status & Next Steps

Foundation Laid

  • Considerable work done with local farmers
  • Building purchased
  • Business Plan nearly complete
  • Some funding secured
  • Modest programming begun

Poised to Move

  • MFT Board decision (this winter)
  • Building renovation (beginning this spring)