023 – Laura Brown, Local Food Hub
Meet Laura Brown, Communications & Marketing Associate for Local Food Hub (LFH). Kate Collier of Feast! started LFH, a non-profit organization, because she saw a need. A more streamlined method for local farmers to get their goods delivered to area consumers. A better way so these folks can focus on growing and making rather than logistics. LFH partners with small area farmers to distribute their product to area grocery stores, restaurants, and food banks. But that’s not all they do.
LFH walks farmers through new food safety regulations, helping them interpret and understand good agricultural practices. Regulations can be costly, so LFH has a cost share program, subsidizing fees for farmers to make it less of a burden. They also offer workshops like Multi-Species Grazing, Organic Orcharding, and Beekeeping, which are free to partner farms, and open to the public for a nominal fee.
LFH purchases products outright, taking on full liability, alleviating the burden so farmers can prevent high insurance premiums. It also makes each piece of produce fully traceable to its source. And they pay $.80 on the dollar, much higher than grocery stores.
There’s a reason there’s a waiting list of farms eager to join! When I toured the warehouse, I didn’t see just produce. Honey, eggs, grits, cornmeal, pancake mix, vinegar, chestnuts, NoBull Burgers and even local water line the shelves. Local water? Yeah, I “poo-pooed” too, until I tasted it. Yum!
Partnerships extend to the community in the form of donations to local area food banks and The Haven, but hunger relief organizations also purchase from LFH, extending the perimeter of folks able to enjoy local food. There are also programs like the Farmacy Prescription and Farm to Workplace, a pilot program with Crutchfield where the company shares in the cost of a CSA delivered to the workplace. Such programs can turn consumers into food citizens by showing them local produce isn’t more expensive, and can be convenient. Good ingredients keep the workplace healthy.
But probably my favorite aspect of LFH are the Community Food Awards, where LFH recognizes the efforts of farmers, customers, and partners. What a wonderful idea, particularly for the farmers who often toil endlessly without recognition. Bravo Local Food Hub.
I really enjoyed talking with Laura Brown whose background is impressive. She’s even spent time on Capitol Hill, but returned to her hometown of Charlottesville so she can impact her local community. And we’re so glad she did.
SHOW NOTES – Links to items discussed within the episode:
- Polyfaces – The Virginia Film Festival will be showing this movie, a profile of Joel Salatin’s farm, on November 7, 2015, in partnership with Local Food Hub. Tickets can be purchased here. Watch the trailer, it will get you motivated about local food!
This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser Engraving.
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