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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Food by Local Farmers. Distribution System by Ants.

February 20, 2018 |

This article was originally published on ensia.com.

Looking for a way to help a sustainable food system grow, Cullen Naumoff turned to nature.

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Driving down U.S. 20 toward Cleveland, Cullen Naumoff knew something had to change.

Naumoff, director of sustainable enterprise for the Oberlin Project in Oberlin, Ohio, had recently launched a food hub with colleague Heather Adelman. Food hubs bring together what small farmers produce into quantities needed by big buyers like schools, restaurants and supermarkets. The problem? The Oberlin Food Hub was so successful that demand was outstripping the ability of participating farmers to meet it. Read More

California Food Hub Innovates by Decentralizing Distribution

July 7, 2015 |
Image courtesy of MendoLake Food Hub

Image courtesy of MendoLake Food Hub

Just north of San Francisco, Mendocino and Lake counties in California are full of small to medium-sized farmers. Many of them sell at local farmers’ markets.

But John Bailey noticed that the time and money many farmers spend just getting their crops to market can make a substantial dent in profits.

“They spend lots of money going to farmers’ markets, but do not earn a profit from farmers’ markets,” says Bailey. “Lots of farmers have no idea how to sell wholesale.” Read More

Chicago Food Hub Expands into 27,000 Square-foot Distribution Warehouse

May 22, 2014 |
Image courtesy of Local Foods

Image courtesy of Local Foods

As farmers increasingly seek local markets to sell their product, restaurants are struggling to meet their local sourcing goals without greatly increasing the number of vendors with whom they work.

One Chicago-based business has been addressing this market gap since March of 2013, and plans to expand their business with a new distribution center scheduled to open in fall 2014. The name of the business is “Local Foods,” and CEO Andrew Lutsey hopes the brand will encourage restaurants to increase their local sourcing while providing regional farmers with a focused local market. Read More

To Sustain Agriculture in Drought-plagued California, Look to Michigan’s Developing Local Distribution Infrastructure

February 18, 2014 |

Noah Fulmer is the director of training and capacity building at Local Orbit, which provides tools for the entrepreneurs and organizations building the New Food Economy.

Hub Camp Grand Rapids Photo courtesy of Downtown Market Grand Rapids

Hub Camp Grand Rapids
Photo courtesy of Downtown Market Grand Rapids

California just can’t catch a break when it comes to water.

As the New York Times noted recently, thousands of Cailfornia Central Valley acres now feature dusty fields where tomatoes and melons once grew. Without any water, fields are simply being left fallow.

Large scale, centralized production wasn’t always at a disadvantage in California. The dryness of inland areas like Fresno, Bakersfield and Temecula made them ideal for finely managing crop production with few pests. The sunny, relatively stable year-round climate couldn’t be beat. When crops needed water, tightly controlled irrigation was designed to draw upon snowmelt off the Sierra Nevada up north and from the Colorado River further south. Read More

Innovative Food Distribution Co. in Oklahoma Brings Local Food to City, Sustainable Farmers Benefit

June 21, 2012 |

Farmers often have many hats to wear—grower, food packager, delivery person, sales booth setup coordinator, social media promoter, bookkeeper, and the list goes on.

Matthew Burch, the founder of Urban Agrarian in Oklahoma City, believes that farmers shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of these responsibilities all on their own. That’s why he started his company in 2008. The company purchases products from food producers within the state at discounted prices and then sells them to local retail shoppers and wholesalers. Read More