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The Farm, Food, and Family Education Center (F3EC) is a dynamic, innovative, and collaborative place for people and organizations to build systems that strengthen economies, enhance resilience, and build community. This Education facility will serve as a “hub” for innovative and collaborative sharing of resources and ideas. It will house a food hub and shared kitchen space that will be an integral part of strengthening the local food system in Randolph County.
A food hub as defined by the USDA is “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distributions, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” It is an online marketplace where local producers list the products they have available for sale and makes shopping for local foods easy. The producer’s role within a food hub is managing the products listed on the website (E.g. updating the pounds of hamburger meat available) and bringing their products to the food hub before pick-up day according to what has already been pre-sold via the online marketplace. The rest is for the food hub to take care of. Consumers utilize the food hub’s website to pre-purchase items and pick them up on the designated day. The on-site facility has dry, cold, and freezer storage for producers that sell at the food hub. For an example of a working food hub, visit the High Country Food Hub website.
The shared kitchen space within the Farm, Food, and Family Education Center will be a kitchen with various appliances and pieces of equipment that anyone within the community can use. The individual will just need to reserve the space ahead of time. For an example of a working shared kitchen visit Madison County’s Value Added Kitchen and the High Country Commercial Kitchen.
Over the past several months the F3EC committee has been visiting both food hubs and shared kitchen spaces across the state to learn more about these facilities so we can better serve our community. Thus far, we have visited High Country Food Hub in Boone, High Country Commercial Kitchen in Jefferson, Piedmont Food Processing Center in Hillsborough, and Farmer Foodshare in Durham. We have upcoming plans to visit Reconciliation House and TRACTOR Food and Farms food hub in Burnsville, Madison County Value Added Kitchen, and Blue Ridge Food Ventures in Candler. Talking with the managers, employees, and volunteers has allowed us to gain a better understanding of what our starting point looks like. Now we need your input! A survey has been created to gather data to help us gain a greater understanding of the interest and needs concerning the food hub and shared kitchen at the Farm, Food, and Family Education Center.