Vermont has exhibited an incredible expansion in the number of regional food hubs in recent years. In 2009, there were six food hubs and currently, more than 24 community food groups have formed with the goal of supporting local agriculture in their region. These groups are doing incredible work to advance the local food system.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food hub as: “a business or organization that is actively coordinating the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified locally or regionally grown food products from primarily small to mid-sized producers.”
Many of Vermont’s food hubs also provide farm to school program support, consumer education about the importance of buying local, offer farmer education and outreach, encourage stewardship of healthy soils and clean water, along with aggregation and distribution of local agricultural products.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets supports these efforts of food hubs and encourages producers and consumers to connect with the organized community food group in their area. Here is a list of Vermont food hubs, including contact information and the regions they serve.
Communicating directly with the over 7,000 individual agricultural entrepreneurs and over 620,000 eaters in the state is not feasible. Connecting with Vermont’s regional food hubs to discuss their programs, share success stories, and assist with overcoming challenges in their community is reasonable. This was the intent of eight food hubs in creating the Vermont Regional Food Center Collaborative in 2009. They agreed to meet quarterly to develop a shared vision of creating a “vibrant, economically just and environmentally sustainable food system where locally-produced food is available and affordable for all Vermonters, and where the vitality of agriculture in Vermont is key to the conservation of our land and the progress of our sustainable economy.” Since the Collaborative’s first gathering, increased access to affordable, healthy local food has occurred across the state; and VT food hubs have been instrumental in the process.
NEW RESOURCE: The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is pleased to announce the publication of a new resource, Using Food Hubs to Create Sustainable Farm to School Programs which highlights key roles that food hubs (defined by the USDA as “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.”) can play in the development and maintenance of successful farm to school programs. This resource, funded through a USDA Farm to School Grant, offers four case study examples designed to help guide both food hubs and farm to school (FTS) programs strengthen partnerships, increase local food procurement, and engage students and community members in farm to school.
To learn more about successful food hub initiatives, please read the following articles published each month in Agriview and one from Green Energy Times.
- Building a Local Economy (BALE)
- Intervale Food Hub
- Rutland Area Food and Farm Link (RAFFL)
- Windham Farm and Food Network (WFFN)
- St Johnsbury Local Area Food Alliance (St J ALFA)
If you have questions, please contact:
Abbey Willard, Local Foods Administrator
Phone: 802-828-3829, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org