Have you seen our big white truck around town? Or heard about a friend’s Food Hub CSA share and wondered, “What is this all about? What is a Food Hub anyway?”
The Intervale Food Hub is a growing enterprise of the Intervale Center that markets and distributes local food (hence the word “hub”). The Food Hub’s goal is to provide the greater Burlington community access to high-quality foods while returning a fair price to farmers. Over 20 Vermont family farms sell products to hundreds of community members right where they work through a multi-farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. This program also delivers shares to public schools and Burlington-area colleges.
Here’s how the CSA works: farmers deliver their products — be they sausages, yogurt, tomatoes, frozen fruit, or kohlrabi — to the Food Hub. Food Hub staffers sort and pack the products into customized CSA shares that are then delivered in handy orange shopping carts right to customers’ workplaces, so they don’t even need to stop at the grocery store on their way home!
Projected growth of this important enterprise shows $1.1 million in annual gross sales by 2016, with $700,000 returned to Vermont farmers.
But the Food Hub isn’t just bringing more local food to more consumers, it’s also opening new markets to farmers. Over 50% of Food Hub customers each year are new to the concept of CSA entirely — and, with a season of CSA membership under their belts, they’re more likely to feel comfortable choosing and buying local food at farmers’ markets and retailers.
As Eric Seitz and Rob Rock of Pitchfork Farm stated,
As our farm has grown, much of our success is due to the innovation and foresight of the Intervale Food Hub. Almost overnight, a whole new market became available to us. We would never have been able to achieve that without the Food Hub. To us, it really is the future model of local food distribution!
Finally, the Food Hub’s impact extends far beyond Chittenden County – our work has had a statewide and national impact. We’ve been sharing our model with other groups seeking to build or expand local food networks. As Kate Collier of the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, Virginia, said,
There is nothing more valuable and inspiring than actually seeing the Intervale first hand. The Intervale team has worked on community food systems for over 20 years, so they continue to be a valuable resource for us as the Local Food Hub works through the many opportunities and inevitable challenges that come with maturity.
With spring shares underway and summer share signup just beginning, the Food Hub is gearing up for another great summer of moving local food forward!