Quantity, pricing, invoicing, payments, delivery – all are things that can get in the way of getting fresh produce from local farmers to local retailers. But thanks to a new marketplace that’s recently opened in the North State, the logistics of purchasing wholesale local food can now be handled with just a few clicks of the computer.
Rebekah Sullivan places boxes of brightly colored chard on a small folding table nestled between a grove of tall pine trees and the huge, metal-framed Farm Pavilion that stands at Chico State’s University Farm. Today’s delivery is just one of many she and her husband have made since becoming members of the North Valley Food Hub.
“We didn’t know what to expect, they didn’t know what to expect, so this has been really thrilling to be able to start selling this awesome fresh market produce that’s picked today and so we just sell it and the restaurants love it so it’s been amazing,” Sullivan said.
In the simplest terms, the Food Hub makes buying and selling wholesale local food easy. Partly because the transaction is done online. Members who are farmers like the Sullivans create a web profile and post what produce they’re selling. Then members who are retailers view the posted information and purchase the produce they want. The final step of the process happens on Thursdays where everyone meets at the University Farm to simply to drop off and pick up.
Jeff King, chef owner of Grana Wood-Fired Foods in Chico, says it’s a system that’s simplified purchasing for him because where he used to have to go out to the farmers markets and manage working with many different farmers himself, he can now just go through the Hub.
“For the farmers to be consolidated, I guess if you will, into the Buy Fresh, Buy Local like this, it allows me to look over all the product that’s available not just what I’m relying on through the farmers who I already have direct contacts with,” King said.
The North Valley Food Hub opened in September and is open to wholesale farmers and retailers throughout the North State. The Hub currently has 60 members, coming from Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties.