In May, the Puget Sound Food Hub launched a new website and implemented changes to its business model in preparation for the 2014 growing season. The Puget Sound Food Hub is a network of farms and non-profit organizations operating cooperatively in the Puget Sound region to market, aggregate and distribute locally produced food direct from farms to businesses and institutions. The Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC), Bow Hill Blueberries and the 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living (21 Acres) have been collaborating to ramp up operational capacity, improve food safety protocols and standards and streamline coordinated management systems to meet the growing demand and expand operations. The 2014 growing season was kicked-off with a farmer orientation gathering in Mount Vernon, WA on April 30.
The Puget Sound Food Hub is set to operate year-round to provide a marketing outlet for small and mid-scale farmers primarily operating in the Puget Sound region. Food hubs are gaining momentum across the country to help foster connections and overcome barriers between buyers and sellers –helping farmers access new markets and ultimately strengthening local food economy by providing greater direct access to locally produced food. Seattle restaurants such as Portage Bay Café and Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, hospitals such as Overlake and University of Washington Medical Center, and childcare centers in underserved South Seattle who are participating in the City of Seattle’s Farm to Table program, are regular customers. The Puget Sound Food Hub is an approved Farm to Fork supplier to Bon Appetit Management Company enabling approved farmers and ranchers to sell their products to corporate dining services at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Amazon and Seattle University.
There are now 40 eligible farms and over 230 commercial and institutional buyers enrolled in the Puget Sound Food Hub online. Businesses enjoy the convenience of buying the freshest, seasonal ingredients direct from many local, sustainable farms with one order, one payment and one delivery, saving time and money for farmers and their business customers. Customers aren’t interrupted by multiple farm deliveries. Farmers don’t have to chase customers for payments. Offering aggregated delivery is convenient for customers and reduces carbon footprint significantly. Farmers spend less money and far less time off the farm delivering to their customers. Energy costs are kept to a minimum with centralized cold storage and ensures food safety, transparency and quality for customers.
The Puget Sound Food shares a vision of creating healthier communities while expanding economic opportunities for sustainable northwest Washington farms and ranches. The Puget Sound Food Hub currently serves Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Snohomish and King counties. Delivery is available to Greater Seattle businesses and institutions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Customers northern counties may pick up aggregated orders directly from Bow hill Blueberries on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Farmers interested in participating as a seller should review the eligibility requirements listed on our website. Registered buyers receive a bi-weekly fresh sheet distributed by email. Credit cards and checks are accepted. For more information about the hub, visit, www.pugetsoundfoodhub.com or contact us at email@example.com.
We Need Another Truck!
The Puget Sound Food Hub is seeking a sponsor to provide funds for the lease or purchase of a second refrigerated truck so we may continue to serve more farmers, restaurants, childcare centers and hospitals in our region. We aim to keep costs low to farmers while we scale up and grow the business. Please contact Karen Mauden to discuss sponsorship opportunities at Karen@agbizcenter.org.
Coordinated Food Hub Aggregation and Distribution Helps Business Customers Buy Farm Direct
Austin Becker, Driver/Distributor, 21 Acres, and Susan Soltes, Bow Hill Blueberries. Customers order online from multiple farms throughout northwest Washington, the boxes are collected from both Bow Hill and 21 Acres aggregation sites, and placed on a truck and delivered to customers throughout the region.