Jul 142013

I’ve been reading a lot about food hubs recently. From farmers markets to food coops. Selling dried goods (such as porridge oats) to fresh produce (such as spinach), they can be Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes or wholefood cooperatives and each venture can be local, regional or, I suppose, national.

Could one work in our part of Shropshire?
What would people be interested in doing, if anything, in terms of a food hub for Shrewsbury and surrounding areas?

Do I mean a box scheme? No.
While box schemes can be a useful way for growers to get food to market and for people to access quality produce without paying supermarket prices they can be quite regimented. The nature of box schemes is to have a fixed menu of what’s in the box. This is, for me, too limiting. With the best will in the world one family cannot consume, for instance, one white and one red cabbage each week, every week! Another major issue is consistency. Of quality and of service. I have young children and if I’ve ordered apples I’ll be depending on them, fresh ones, juicy ones, ones that are not from New Zealand.

Why get a food distribution service up and running?

To support the farmers who produce the food and the community who consume it.

How to get a food distribution service up and running?

  1. All food supplied to the scheme is grown without the use of artificial fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. The cycle of nutrients being the keystone of the productive system. Organic permaculture. Or something similar?
  2. The area of supply to be determined by the produce and the season. When local produce is not abundant, the hungry gap fresh produce can be scarce. Especially with such an awfully protracted Winter and late Spring such as we’ve just experienced! Besides relying mainly on root crops meat may be one of the few locally sourced food options. Imported food would need to have some sustainable credentials to be acceptable.
  3. Collective enterprise. Low profit, just enough to make the business work. Like a CSA the members pay upfront to be a part of the scheme and this money is used to get the scheme going.

The aim is to provide farmers with a route to market and the consumers a level of consistency they (we) maybe don’t currently get. We all get good food, support the local economy and benefit from community control.

Is there sufficient interest out there?

  • Farmers – Are you looking to develop your business? Would a scheme like this be of interest to you?
  • Householders – Are you looking for fresh, food raised without the use of artificial inputs? Would a scheme like this be of interest to you?

What do you think? A community scheme where members come together to supply / shop for food. A number of producer (farmer / grower) members supply the service and the service operates a hub / distribution to householder members. Interested?