Food Hubs

Food Hubs

Southern SAWG facilitated a Southern food hub learning network from 2013-2015. Fifty agricultural professionals and farmers from around the region shared information on successful strategies for food hub development through workshops, webinars and phone calls. We also provided educational sessions and networking opportunities at Southern SAWG annual conferences to increase the knowledge and expertise around food hub development in our region. This project was supported by the Southern SARE Professional Development Program.

To listen to some of the presentations and webinars from this project, click on the resources below.

Our Food Hub Starter Kit contains a short annotated list of resources that will be useful for agricultural and business professionals, farmers, and other community members who are assisting with the exploration of a food hub or a food hub start-up. View or download the Food Hub Starter Kit here.


Food Hub Lessons:
Processing and Marketing Meat

January 2015 • Duration: 90 minutes

Marksbury Farm Market is a small-scale, privately owned slaughterhouse and packaging facility, as well as a retail market, located in Kentucky. They sell grass-fed beef, pastured pork, poultry and lamb sourced from over 40 local farmers. Currently, Marksbury distributes their products (with their own small fleet) to restaurants, grocery stores, and institutional markets. In this session from the 2015 Southern SAWG annual conference, two of the partners discuss their facility, staffing, farmer relationships, markets, and other issues facing food processing firms that market livestock products.

Presenters: John-Mark Hack and Preston Correll, Marksbury Farm Market (KY).

Click on the audio link below and listen as you advance through the slides above.

(Be patient with the audio portion – the actual presentation will start at about the 30 second mark.)

Food Hub Lessons:
Early Decisions

January 2015 • Duration: 93 minutes

Are you starting a regional food hub or assisting others in getting one off the ground? In this session from the 2015 Southern SAWG annual conference, you’ll hear about key decisions that two Southern food hubs made as they started out. They cover topics such as business structure, financing, management, distribution and markets, and farmer recruitment. This was a facilitated conversation that included many questions from others working on food hub development in the audience.

Sara Clow, GrowFood Carolina (SC); Leslie Hossfeld, Feast Down East/Southeastern NC Food Systems (NC); and Jim Barham, USDA Rural Development (DC).

Click on the audio link below and listen as you advance through the slides above.

Financing Food Hubs and Other Healthy Food Enterprises

January 2015 • Duration: 78 minutes

Need capital? Where do you turn? There are many sources of financing for food hubs – including grants, loans, investors and other creative financing options. In this session from the 2015 Southern SAWG annual conference, three professionals with food hub experience discuss some of the options available, and key considerations in choosing the right option based on the type of business and stage of development. The discussion focuses mostly on financing available for start-ups, but also includes information that is valuable for more mature businesses.

Presenters: Malini Ram Moraghan, Wholesome Wave (IL); Dafina Williams, Opportunity Finance Network (PA); and Jim Barham, USDA Rural Development (DC); with an introduction by Ronald Davis, USDA Rural Development (AL).

Click on the audio link below and listen as you advance through the slides above.

(Be patient with the audio portion – the actual presentation will start at about the 1 minute 45 second mark.)

So You Think a Food Hub Is Right for You?

How to help food hub organizers and prospective farmers make informed decisions about food hub options.

May 2014 • Duration: 74 minutes

So you want to start a regional food hub or food value chain business. Or you are assisting someone who is exploring the possibility. This webinar will help you walk through some of the critical first steps including:

  • How can you assess your local food system and make an informed decision about an entity or service that can fill a needed gap? 

  • How can you figure out how to position yourself in the local food system and what roles or services to take on? 
  • Once you have an idea of your position, what are the options for business models that might suit your role or service well?
  • How can you create strong, mutually beneficial relationships with local farmers? 
  • How can you communicate truthfully about the benefits and expectations of marketing through this business?

Presenters: Tina Prevatte, Co-CEO, Firsthand Foods (NC); Kathlyn Terry, Executive Director, Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA); and Eric Bendfelt, Community Viability Specialist, Virginia Cooperation Extension Service (VA).

Developing Food Hubs with Limited Resource Producers in Low Income Communities

August 2014 • Duration: 1 hour

Description: Andrew Williams and Glyen Holmes discuss how to be resourceful and creative in developing food hubs with limited resource producers and in low income communities. Using examples from their work in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, they address the following issues:

  • Creating awareness (i.e. the interest in producing and purchasing local foods)
  • Funding strategies
  • Finding and developing infrastructure
  • Marketing strategies
  • Sustaining efforts after the start-up phase

Presenters: Glyen Holmes, New North Florida Cooperative (FL); and Andrew Williams, Deep South Food Alliance (AL).

Feasibility Studies and Business Planning for Food Hubs

November 2014 • Duration: 1 hour, 8 minutes


Want to learn more about conducting a feasibility study and carrying out business planning for a food hub venture?  We recommend that you watch an excellent webinar produced by the National Good Food Network, and listen to this one-hour dialogue with Kathy Nyquist and Saloni Doshi of New Venture Advisors.  Both are highly skilled business advisors who work directly with food hubs.

First, watch this webinar: "Business of Food Hubs: Planning Successful Regional Produce Aggregation Facilities". During the "Business of Food Hubs" webinar, Kathy Nyquist walks the audience through simple steps for creating a feasibility study for a food hub venture. She uses examples from two feasibility studies, one in Illinois and one in Virginia. It is useful information for both new and existing food hubs, and it will provide excellent background information for the November 5th conference call.

Then, listen to this conference call where members of the Southern SAWG food hub learning network asked questions of Kathy and Saloni.