Whatcom County’s Cloud Mountain Farm Center will partner with the Puget Sound Food Hub to provide aggregation and distribution services for local farms which sell their products direct to supermarkets, restaurants, and food service providers though the Puget Sound Food Hub’s web site. This new enterprise will start on Monday, September 9,
and will serve as an aggregation site and distributor for farms and businesses in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, as well as having the ability to connect local farms for distribution to new markets further south along the I-5 corridor.
The Puget Sound Food Hub operates a web-based purchasing platform and currently has 40 participating farms selling directly to 60 businesses located from Whatcom County south to King County, and out to Island and San Juan Counties. The system makes it easy for the buyers to buy direct from local farms with one order, one payment, and one delivery. Current buyers include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, San Juan Food Co-op, Seattle University, the Markets, LLC, and the Train Wreck Bar and Grill.
The regional system works with two existing hub sites at 21 Acres in Woodinville, WA, and Bow Hill Blueberries in Bow, WA. The responsibility of these hubs is solely to safely aggregate and deliver each farm’s products to the buyers. The Puget Sound Food Hub web site provides for the ordering, invoicing, inventory control, and payment of purchases, keeping the relationship and sales transactions exclusively between each individual farm and buyer. The 21 Acres hub also provides a refrigerated delivery truck which picks up products in Bow to deliver to buyers in King and Snohomish Counties.
Cloud Mountain Farm reorganized as a nonprofit three years ago in order to provide educational opportunities, new infrastructure, and services that can support farms to expand crop diversity, improve production capacity, and access new markets. “Our nonprofit structure and the mission of our nonprofit appear to be a good fit for providing these much-needed services,” states Tom Thornton the long-time owner and now Executive Director of Cloud Mountain. “The ability to get multiple farms on one truck with one invoice while still keeping the buying relationship between the business and the farmer adds value for everyone involved. It’s more efficient for both the farm and the buyer, and keeps trucks off the road and away from the businesses back door.”
The addition of Cloud Mountain’s new hub and refrigerated delivery truck will have a substantial positive impact on expanding new market opportunities for local farms and providing improved access to locally produced farm products for supermarkets, restaurants, and institutional food service providers. Acme Farms + Kitchen and its owners Cara Piscitello and Joy Rubey provide an innovative home delivery business featuring an interesting array of locally produced foods prepared to cook or eat, and with tested recipes and preparation instructions. “We typically source from more than a dozen local suppliers each week and the logistics of coordinating pick-ups and deliveries have become a time consuming and costly process. We look forward to the efficiencies that the new Cloud Mountain operation will provide for our business and others in Whatcom County.”
Anna Martin, co- owner of Osprey Hill Farm, helped to pioneer this new and emerging delivery system during Puget Sound Food Hub’s pilot years in 2011 and 2012. Their diverse farm and business has grown along with the hub. “The food hub created a wonderful opportunity for us to diversify our market channels and reach new customers. It’s been a positive contributor offering new pathways for our family farm.”
Puget Sound Food Hub is a network of farms and partners including Northwest Agriculture Business Center, 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living, Bow Hill Blueberries and Cloud Mountain Farm Center, that are operating cooperatively in the Puget Sound region to market, aggregate and distribute locally produced food from farm to restaurants, hospitals, preschools, grocery stores, universities and more.
Contact: Lucy Norris, Director, Puget Sound Food Hub