Introducing the Capital Region Community Food Hub!
Something exciting has been unfolding in Victoria’s community food realm since 2019 – the development of the Capital Region Community Food Hub!
What’s that, you ask? A Food Hub provides infrastructure to connect small-scale farmers and producers with larger markets. Creating a centralized, shared facility where locally-produced food can be cleaned, processed, and distributed reduces barriers to scaling up production and unites food producers with other stakeholders within the food system, from restaurants to retailers to wholesalers. Food Hubs also support business development and training, and spark innovation and multi-sector collaboration.
Having a Community Food Hub in Victoria is a great asset to improve our regional food security by encouraging collaboration and coordination between actors in our food system and increasing the availability of local food to consumers. In short, they are a key element to strengthening our local food system.
The Capital Region Food Hub has unfolded in two phases. Phase One of the Food Hub was the South Island FarmHub, which launched in the spring of 2020 in an effort to redirect locally-grown produce to other consumers after restaurants were forced to close during lockdown. The Farm Hub aggregates and distributes this produce and sells it to wholesalers and directly to consumers through produce boxes. The second phase of the new Capital Region Food Hub is currently underway at 808 Viewfield Road where a shared processing kitchen is being installed, allowing small to medium sized farmers and food processors to clean, process, and package food products and access wholesale markets.
This focus on food processing and business training will allow producers to expand their businesses and develop more diverse revenue streams, from creating value-added products such as pesto to coordinating crops with restaurants to provide seasonal menu features. The shared commercial kitchen space meets provincially mandated health and safety standards that allow products to be sold to larger markets. A teaching and training space will also provide opportunities for business incubation, recipe development, and education around topics like product marketing and health and safety standards. The kitchen is set to open November 1.