Farm to Institution
Channels linking local food to institutions like schools, hospitals, and food service businesses like restaurants are severely lacking, or virtually nonexistent, in our service area. There are many reasons why wholesale distribution of this nature is hindered, including lack of infrastructure, an uncoordinated supply chain, and an uncertainty of the true need for local food in institutions. As such, before realizing a successful a farm to institution distribution enterprise, we must first understand more about the problem.
As a food hub, we have experimented with small-scale wholesale distribution by working with several area restaurants, including:
Over the past couple seasons, we have coordinated our local food supply to distribute on a small scale to these restaurants. We have learned a lot about what it might take to operate a successful wholesale distribution enterprise and forged lasting relationships with local chefs.
As much as we have learned through this aspect of Hub operations, at this time we feel it is best to pause this small-scale endeavor in order to take a step back and properly assess the needs of farm to institution distribution in our area. As such, we are carrying out a grant project to properly perform this assessment and determine what a large-scale local food wholesale distribution chain would look like.
We have recently been awarded 2017 UDSA Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant funds to assist in the planning phase for wholesale distribution in our area. This project will run for 18 months, and the details are as follows:
Kearsarge Area Value Chain Assessment and Action Plan for a Resilient Local Food Distribution Enterprise.
The Kearsarge area finds itself with an imbalanced supply and demand of local foods. On one hand there is strong institutional demand, and on the other is an uncoordinated supply which lacks the resources to overcome the obstacles it faces. This project proposes to help connect institutional markets and small-scale local producers within a 30-mile radius of Bradford, NH by assessing existing infrastructure, current institutional activities and producer capacities, and potential opportunities for expansion by planning for a wholesale local food transportation enterprise. One of the goals of this project’s strategy of intensive and in-person engagement of key players of the NH food shed is to lay a foundation for a platform of discourse and collaboration, which are pivotal elements of a resilient local food system.
The expected outcomes of the project are threefold:
(1) Area Value Chain (Needs and Opportunities) Assessment
(2) Collaborative Statewide Focus Group and Resulting Action Plan
(3) KFH Business Plan for Wholesale Distribution Enterprise
Stay tuned in for updates on this exciting grant project. We excited for this opportunity to help forge the way for a successful farm to institution local food distribution enterprise in the Kearsarge Area.