November 26, 2012
Plans for food hub to be detailed at public meeting
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue Extension is calling on Indiana farmers to attend a meeting in Greenfield if they want to learn how a Central Indiana Food Hub can create marketing opportunities for their produce and other farm products.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. EST Dec. 13 at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road.
A study was conducted over the summer on the feasibility of starting a food hub in central Indiana. The steering committee that commissioned the study is now overseeing the development of a business plan and marketing materials for such a hub designed to meet specific needs of central Indiana farmers and consumers.
A food hub is a centrally located operation with a business management structure that coordinates the collection, storage, processing, distribution and marketing of locally and regionally produced food products.
"It's really a new way to foster the connection between consumers and area farmers and keep food dollars local longer," said Roy Ballard, Extension agricultural and natural resources educator in Hancock County. "It's all about opportunity - the opportunity for farmers to remain sustainable through reaching new markets with new products, the opportunity for consumers to know the source of their food and to make purchases with convenience, and an opportunity to reduce the billions of our food dollars that flee Indiana every year when we import our food from out of state."
Farmers who produce fruits, vegetables, meat, honey, meat, flowers, herbs, eggs or a variety of other raw or value-added farm products can find efficient marketing and improved sustainability by working through a food hub, Ballard said.
The purpose of the meeting is to explain the committee's vision of how the hub would likely operate, to solicit comments from farmers regarding their interest in increasing their market access through a hub and to learn of any obstacles.
Part of the discussion will focus on the 2013 launch of a "virtual" food hub, or online farmers' market, that will offer a connection - sometimes referred to as "matchmaking" - between farmers and consumers. The system would provide customers the convenience of selecting and paying for goods from local farmers online and picking them up at a point close to home.
Anyone unable to attend but wanting to provide comments can contact Ballard by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 317-462-1113.
The project has received financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered in Indiana by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, email@example.com
Source: Roy Ballard, 317-462-1113, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue Extension, Hancock County