The Northern Cohort launched the roll out of its plan for a food hub in the Peace region on Wednesday, which would see local producers work together to make their products available under one banner.
The aim of a food hub is to allow multiple producers, processors, and distributors to share facilities, equipment, and services to reduce costs and better market product to whole sale and retail suppliers. At least 20 people turned out to the launch to learn more about the project.
“It’s an old concept, but it’s becoming in vogue again,” said Darren Stott, who has helped create both the Vancouver Local Food Hub and the Victoria Downtown Public Market.
"It's really becoming an established sector and has an impact on local food security. At the end of the day, a lot of their vision is supporting local producers."
More than 350 food hubs already exist in North America at different sizes and levels, said Stott, noting some are non-profits while others use a co-operative model where producers have a share in the business.
Northern Co-Hort Co-ordinator Bess Legault says she’s excited to see existing relationships grow and expand from the Fireweed Market in downtown Fort St. John, which already acts as a hub for local products.
The roll out of the plan includes food boxes, which would contain curated selections of goods from local producers, and which will be used to fund other services within the food hub. An online store is also being explored, providing a space for residents to order food.
"We want to have a network of resources within the community to increase local food purchasing opportunities and make value added products available, and make it easy for people to access,” said Legault.
It’s estimated the food hub would need roughly $25,000 to $40,000 to get started, but has the potential to generate a million dollars in revenue every year for local producers.
The next key step for the food hub is to create an advisory board, ideally made of producers and citizens invested in local food production.
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative. Email Tom at email@example.com