Regional Food Hub
Food hubs are emerging as critical pillars for building stronger regional and local food systems. A food hub centralizes the business management structure to facilitate the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.
Small and mid-size producers often don’t have access to their own processing, aggregation, distribution, or storage facilities. They might not be able to develop relationships with critical buyers or have the resources to develop strong marketing campaigns. This sort of infrastructure is necessary to growing agricultural businesses.
The market demand for this type of facility in this region of Georgia is undeniable. In 2012 upon the request of the Conservancy’s Regional Food Hub Committee, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners hired UGA to conduct a feasibility study to determine just how feasible this type of development would be.
Since then, there have been a number of developments: 1) a USDA-certified cannery has been built in the City of Madison, serving the vegetable processing needs; 2) there has been interest expressed in developing a processing facility for animals in the region; and 3) a public-private partnership between the Morgan County Board of Commissioners and Kelly Products, Inc. has produced Farmview Market to serve the retail and aggregation/distribution needs.
The Conservancy successfully raised $80,000 from USDA on the County’s behalf to help fund the construction of the farmers market portion of Farmview Market. Keith Kelly says of the project, “This is no small undertaking, but our company is passionate about this venture, and we believe it will be a great asset for local farmers and local and regional consumers.”