Unity Food Hub - Slow Money Maine

Report
A partnership between Maine Farmland Trust,
local community development organizations,
and local farmers
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)
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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.
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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.
Five Spokes
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The
The
The
The
The
Packing Shed
Cutting Board
Food Depot
Share
Oasis
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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).
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Provides minimal processing (peeling,
chopping) of vegetable crops.
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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.
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Central facility for cold and dry storage.
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Holds products for Cutting Board operation.
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Available as storage and pick-up site for
distributors and institutions.
Available for storage by farms.
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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
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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.
A food hub is “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of l
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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.
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Maine Farmland Trust
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Unity Barn Raisers
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Trillium Redevelopment
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Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)
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Local farmers
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Maine-based local foods distributors
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Select institutions interested in buying
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.
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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.
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)
Questions?

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