TRACY CITY, Tenn., Jun 25, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode joined local leaders at the warehouse next door to the Farmer’s Market in Tracy City today to help launch a new regional farm-to-table project with a unique focus on building the capacity for small farms to meet demand from wholesale buyers.
"We want farmers to concentrate on growing good food," said Goode. "Thanks to this new Food Hub through the Cumberland Farmer’s Market, farmers in the south Cumberland region will soon be able increase their income from farming and ultimately hire more workers."
With help from a USDA Rural Development grant of $43,276, Cumberland Farmer’s Market staff is building on a reputation for community-building and quality regionally-produced food to a new level with the Food Hub Project. The Hub expands the idea of a traditional farmer’s market by providing small and medium sized family farms with on-going aggregation and distribution services necessary to sell their products to businesses and institutions in addition to regular online and retail sales on market days.
During the last four years the unique online Market has grown to include more than 60 growers offering nearly 700 products, hundreds of regular retail customers, and sales of nearly $80,000 a year. The new services to be offered will develop a wholesale network with the capacity to fulfill growing demand from restaurants, businesses and institutions that require quantities and delivery capacity beyond that of an average-size family farmer.
Market customers order online then pick up their produce and goods at set times. The website includes individual spotlight pages for participating growers in an easy to use, informative format so buyers can get to know more about the people and farms behind what they eat. www.Sewanee.locallygrown.net.
According to Goode, "This grant is part of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food effort aimed at carrying out President Obama's commitment to strengthen local and regional food systems. We know demand for locally grown food is high across the country."
"Let’s face it," he said, "Fresher food just tastes a lot better and is better for us."
Rural Development's business grant programs provide assistance to local governments and non-profits that assist small businesses, develop local business infrastructure, provide job training, conduct feasibility studies or provide technical assistance to businesses and community leaders.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last three years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $2.5 Billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in southeast Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Chattanooga at 423-756-2239 ext. 2, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1492 or online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
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or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397