Here at Food Works Group, we like to track the newest and most innovative food system trends so we can pass that knowledge on to our customers. Recently, food hubs, like the Baltimore Food Hub, have caught our attention.
So what, exactly, is a food hub? A key feature of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, food hubs operate on the principle that farmers are stronger when they work together. Food hubs are networks that enable regional farmers to collaborate with one another on marketing and distribution. These collaborative efforts allow farmers to focus on what they do best - growing great food!
The Baltimore Food Hub is one such food hub, whose efforts are particularly innovative and commendable. The Food Hub is a campus of facilities, services, and programs designed to enhance Baltimore’s local food economy. With support from a team of business partners, nonprofit organizations, and state and local government agencies, they seek to build a vibrant local food system that creates both employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the community. The Food Hub occupies East Baltimore’s historic, but long neglected, Eastern Pumping Station, which served as a filming site for the popular television show, The Wire. In occupying this space, the Food Hub has played a major role in revitalizing East Baltimore. It not only brings local foods to the area, but also offers jobs and opportunities to community members.
Each building on the Food Hub’s campus serves a unique purpose. Flex 1 and Flex 2 are flexible spaces for food-related businesses; these buildings offer spaces for food manufacturing, preparation and storage, as well as administrative work. The Coworking building serves as a venue for food entrepreneurs and businesses looking for office space. Currently, the Maryland Farmers Market Association occupies this flexible workspace and utilizes it for opportunities to collaborate with other organizations. The Kitchen Incubator, set to open next summer, will offer tenants state of the art kitchen equipment. With the popularity of food trucks growing quickly, the Food Hub also offers a space for food truck storage and preparation in its Food Truck Parking and Commissary. The final building on this extensive campus is for urban farming. Here, growers can utilize a quarter-acre of hoop houses to grow food all year long.
We think the Baltimore Food Hub, and food hubs more generally, are at the forefront of innovation in the food system space. Food hubs allow farmers to concentrate on growing the best food by ensuring that the food is marketed and distributed efficiently.
Does your community have a food hub you think we should know about? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!