Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-8-2013

Abstract

It has been a challenge for many community-based, small to medium scale, fruit and vegetable farmers to meet the high demand of locally sourced food. Community-based producers have been mostly using farm stands, farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture (CSAs) to meet this demand. Although there has been tremendous growth in the number of farmers’ markets and CSA subscriptions, a gap remains for institutional buyers demanding community-based food. Regional food hubs may be the critical piece needed for filling this gap. The Edible Economy Project in partnership with Heartland Community College is working on a regional food hub network project in central Illinois to create a more efficient and vibrant community-based food system. A regional food hub is defined by the USDA 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”. Through food hubs, buyers and farmers are better able to connect and efficiently make transactions. Food hubs allow community-based food to be more accessible and the hope is that farmers will be able to meet the high demand for community-based food. This research places the community-based food system into the broader green economy and takes a case study approach for explaining how a community with diverse stakeholders may develop a food hub.

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