A new DeKalb-area group is looking into ways to connect small farms with a big regional market.
Restaurants, stores, and even schools say they want more locally raised food. A growing number of farmers say they want to supply it. The trick is getting them together -- and at a price that works for everyone. That’s where a regional food hub could help.
Dan Kenney convened the first meeting on the idea Thursday in DeKalb. He sees it as an economic engine that could include commercial kitchens, a distribution center, and great training opportunities.
He says the city’s in a great location, between the farmers and a huge market:
We can bring the food in here, process, aggregate it, save some for our own use in our institutions and schools in DeKalb county and satisfy some need in the market in Chicago.
Kenney says this is not just about organic produce: There just aren’t enough growers in the region to supply that demand. Eventually, the number of qualified organic producers will increase. Until then, a food hub would handle a mix of organic and non-organic vegetables, grains, and meats.
Members of the DeKalb-area organizing group are looking to learn from other food hubs throughout the country, including one based in the Quad Cities.
Anyone interested in getting involved with the food hub planning can get in touch with organizers through DeKalb County Community Gardens. This is not a DCCG project, but the conversation was initiated through the established community group. That's the case until the food hub project becomes an established organization.