In the past decade, hundreds of food hubs have sprung up around the United States in an effort to support small farmers, meet the growing demand for local food, and build a more sustainable food system.
The USDA defines a food hub as “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products, primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.”
In short, a food hub is any operation – which can be for-profit, non-profit, or a cooperative model – that connects food grown by local farmers with local businesses and eaters.
There’s a popular saying in the growing local food world: “If you’ve seen one food hub… you’ve seen one food hub.” Food hubs are as diverse as the communities they serve. Some hubs have central warehouses; others are virtual operations. Some hubs pick up and deliver produce; others help farmers work together to share the burden of delivery.
The one common theme that all hubs have in common (other than food, of course), is that they offer crucial infrastructure and services to local farmers and local buyers, all of whom are busy people who don’t necessarily have the time to cultivate multiple relationships, or set up good invoicing and payment systems, or market the good work they’re doing for local food. A food hub can help with all of that and more.
To learn more about food hubs, visit the following links:
- Food hubs: How small farmers get to market
- Food Hubs: Building Stronger Infrastructure for Small and Mid-Size Producers