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If you would like to read the 2016 San Juan County Food Hub Feasibility Study, please click the link below:
SJC Food Hub Feasibility Study
What is the mission of the San Juan County Food Hub?
To increase the production and sales of local food in San Juan County to support a viable agricultural economy, strengthen food security, and promote access to healthy, sustainably grown food.
What is the history of the SJC Food Hub?
In 2015 the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild, in partnership with the Agricultural Resources Committee of San Juan County, the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, the Orcas Food Cooperative, and Washington State University Extension in San Juan County, received a USDA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant to undertake a feasibility study and create a business plan for a food hub in San Juan County.
What is a food hub?
A food hub is a centrally located cold storage facility or facilities that facilitates the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally and regionally produced food products.[i]
Why does San Juan County need a food hub?
The USDA funded feasibility study indicates that despite unmet demand for local products, the market is hindered by gaps in farmer-customer communication, lack of infrastructure, and distribution challenges due to the fractured nature of the county’s island geography. The San Juan County Food Hub (SJC Food Hub) offers an opportunity to address these critical challenges and to help grow the local food system.
How does the SJC Food Hub work?
The Food Hub is a network of cold storage facilities on Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez island that aggregate local food in the County for distribution to wholesale buyers. The SJC Food Hub will utilize specialized software to allow local farmers to upload and update their current inventory on a web-based sales platform. Food purveyors will be able to view available products along with producer profiles that communicate each farm’s unique story, growing practices, and certifications. Food purveyors will be able to purchase food items from multiple farms, receive one invoice, and opt to receive one aggregated shipment, thus providing them the ease and convenience of traditional distribution. Once orders are made, farmers will receive an aggregated “pick list” with orders from each of their customers. Farmers will then pick, pack, and deliver all of their orders to their closest food hub aggregation site, where orders will be combined and delivered to or picked up by each customer.
Do I have to sign up for everything the Food Hub offers?
No, you only sign up for the services that would be helpful to you. For example, farmers and customers can choose to use the online sales platform but provide distribution services themselves for reduced costs.
How will the Food Hub influence my existing customer relationships?
The SJC Food Hub is a coordination organization, and every farmer and buyer keeps their unique identity. You’ve put time into cultivating relationships for years, and we only want those to get stronger.
How will the Food Hub affect my pricing?
Farmers post food for whatever price they want on the Hub. The Food Hub will increase the price to customers to cover costs, with that increase based on which services the farmer and buyer choose.
What are the benefits?
The San Juan County Food Hub will address the key challenges found in the feasibility study by:
- Connecting local food producers with a network of potential wholesale buyers
- Providing buyers with one invoice and delivery of local food, and farmers with a consolidated pick-list from their customers
- Developing efficient inter-island and regional distribution channels
- Identifying market gaps and facilitating producer/buyer relationships
The food hub model offers a flexible, cooperative approach to address the complexities of marketing and distribution of local food. In the San Juan Islands, development of a food hub will expand local agricultural production and market opportunities, add jobs to the agricultural, retail, marketing, and service sector of the economy, and increase local and regional food security.