Urban farms and community gardens located within an hour’s drive of Nashville, TN will soon have a new outlet to garner revenue from their produce in the guise of a nonprofit food hub called Nashville Grown. The hub, which is set to launch in Spring 2012, will collect produce from these small and often underfunded urban farmers and help them achieve economically viability by marketing and distributing their products as part of a larger aggregated offering, rather than individually, to a consortium of wholesale buyers including restaurants, universities and various retail outlets throughout the city.
“For urban agriculture to be more than a novelty, or an educational tool, there has to be an effective, profitable way to collect and sell food from a large number of tiny farms across a city,” said Sarah Johnson, Co-Founder of Nashville Grown.
Even in a shaky economy, Farmhand Foods has been a stable source of southern hospitality in North Carolina for small-scale farmers and the customers seeking their pasture-raised, humanely treated and antibiotic and hormone-free livestock products.
Built on their three guiding principles of respect, transparency and partnership, the company got its start as a marketer and distributor of sustainably-raised meat products almost a year ago in a state known for its large industrial farms.
Finding fresh, high-quality produce in Montreal is a challenge. The long and winding road that produce typically travels from farm to market in this city means that it must be harvested far before it’s ripe in order to survive long shipping distances. The downfalls of the current supply chain – heavy fuel use, food safety risks, and the lack of personal connection between farmer and consumer – inspired Mohamed Hage, president and founder of Lufa Farms, to develop a model urban farm that would provide local, sustainable food to city dwellers.
Kareem Shaya’s interest in local and sustainable agriculture took flight after he joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) run by Full Belly Farm in Northern California. “I started reading about how local agriculture works and the logistics of getting it from seeds to people’s houses,” he says.
To further indulge his newfound interest in local agriculture, Shaya decided to visit numerous local farms and interview farmers to learn more about their operations. What he found was that many farms were run in an ad-hoc manner that lacked a streamlined, organized approach.
In every industry, businesses look for new ways to connect – to the consumer, to the product, to each other. Sustainable agriculture, in particular, is an industry known for its connections: between the farmer and the soil, the consumer and his food, and the consumer and the producer of his food. But one connection that’s often overlooked is one of the most vital to the marketplace – that between the producer and the buyer. That’s where FoodHub comes in.
Developed by Ecotrust as part of their Food & Farms program, FoodHub is an online community of food professionals. It allows chefs, grocers and foodservice professionals to connect with and source from local farmers and food producers.