The Local Food Hub— ”the Hub“— is less than two years old, but has already established itself as one of the most creative and effective farm-to-market enterprises in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Hub links nearly 40 small to medium size farmers to a wide range of buyers in the greater Charlottesville area, including the University of Virginia, UVA Medical Center, Albemarle county Public Schools, independent retailers and numerous restaurants.
SCALE, Inc began its work with the Hub during their concept and planning stage, helping Hub co-founders Kate Collier and Marisa Vrooman design a comprehensive, efficient system that started with farmers and ended with committed buyers. The parts in between the farms and market — aggregation, cooling and packing and distribution — were also developed during this phase. SCALE’s work with the core leadership team of the Hub has continued for more than a year, helping to steadily improve key components of their value-chain system: Developing detailed, reliable demand estimates from buyers; securing good pricing for farmers’ products; building a production planning process that works for growers, including production planning tools; and developing harvesting and post harvest handling protocols and training growers to use them.
Additionally, SCALE has provided a series of organic production workshops for farmers in the Hub, covering topics ranging from soil fertility and ecological pest management to season extension and construction of hoop houses. This educational work and targeted technical assistance is ongoing.