A recent blog post from Roots of Change highlights a food system that has seen its popularity rise along with the demand for sustainable and organic agriculture; the ‘food hub’. The system was born in response the current traditional agribusiness, which puts small and medium farmers at a terrible disadvantage. Under a ‘food hub’, these small and medium farmers pool together their resources and product, allowing them to access “services such as aggregation, processing, marketing and distribution”. Pooling their relatively small amount of produce allows the collective food hub to enter and be competitive in larger markets.
A post goes on to say that no two food hubs are the same. They organize themselves differently based upon the needs of their members, and some of these structures “include producer and/or consumer-driven cooperatives, nonprofits, retail structures and hybrid models”. A level of cooperation and trust that develops in the successful food hub, Roots says, has all sorts of beneficial consequences, such as driving the price down for everyone and fostering ever-stronger ties between producer and consumer.
As sustainable, local and organic agriculture find itself more and more in the ‘accepted consciousness’ of the American people, food hubs will have to take a bigger role in our nation’s food economy. It will be interesting to see how collaborations between large groups of small and medium size farmers evolve as demand for these types of agriculture continue to boom.