Food hubs provide a way for connecting small farmers and utilizing their excess production capacity by giving them access to markets that they can serve together but could not serve individually. Food hubs also serve the needs of larger scale consumers of agricultural products by giving them access to a more stable supply of locally resourced product than they could realize by dealing directly with individual farmers.
Here’s what the USDA, which is promoting the food hub business model, has to say:
Many farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, are challenged by the lack of distribution and processing infrastructure of appropriate scale that would give them wider access to retail, institutional, and commercial foodservice markets, where demand for local and regional foods continues to rise. Food hubs can help. By offering a combination of production, aggregation, distribution, and marketing services, food hubs make it possible for producers to gain entry into new and additional markets that would be difficult or impossible to access on their own.
If you need more information, the USDA’s food hub page is the place to start and has many links out from there.
There are several food hub initiatives at various stages of development in NH, including Cheshire county, Northern NH, the Seacoast area, and a new initiative for a Manchester food hub. Whitney Carpenter, Steve Normanton and I have a meeting on Friday afternoon with the coordinators on the Manchester food hub project to find out more about their plans. I will follow up with an update as to the specific nature of those plans.