For Pam Bailey, president of Flint Fresh, breaking ground on the Flint Fresh Food Hub felt pretty amazing. Keeping it going? Well, that’s priceless, according to Bailey.
“To be able to present that to the community, to announce some really good news to Flint, was a really great feeling,” she says. “We’re just incredibly excited to get going on this project, and excited to be able to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to more people in Flint.”
Flint Fresh, which started with its Mobile Market last fall, will now help small, local farmers get their produce to local businesses and institutions, like schools and hospitals, through the Food Hub.
Bailey describes the 26,800-square-foot building — the infrastructure funded by the Michigan Department of Education — as a wholesale enterprise.
But how, exactly, will the Food Hub operate?
If a local farmer grows 20 heads of lettuce and wants to sell them to the Hurley Medical Center, the farmer can’t just pull up and ask the hospital CEO to buy their crops, because a medical center would need way more than that to satisfy vendor requirements. This is where the Food Hub comes in.
“What we do is work with 10 local farmers, we buy 20 heads of lettuce from each of them, package it, process it, then we sell it to Hurley,” says Bailey.
The Food Hub will also serve as a permanent home for Flint Fresh’s Mobile Market and veggie box subscription program. The Mobile Market travels to local neighborhoods and has a full schedule of upcoming locations on their Facebook page, Flint Fresh Mobile Market. The Veggie Box program, which runs all year, lets residents choose between buying an a la carte box, where they pick their own fruit and vegetables, or the farmer’s choice box, which includes the best in-season vegetables from local farmers.
Bailey says some of the vegetables people can expect this fall include winter squash, kale, radish, and turnips. Orders are due a week before customers want their boxes and must be completed by Thursday at 5 p.m., either online or by phone at (810) 620-1902. Flint Fresh will also deliver the veggie box if an order is, at least, $15 and in one of the designated zip codes listed at its website, scheduled for drop-offs on specified days. Anyone can also pick up their veggie box at The Local Grocer during business hours.
A Flint native, Bailey says there are currently 22 farmers who grow produce for the Mobile Market and to contribute to contents of the veggie boxes. The farmers will also work with the Food Hub, in the hopes of getting more business. Companies or organizations that want to participate or become members of the Food Hub network may contact Flint Fresh to discuss opportunities.
Flint Fresh will also deliver the veggie box if an order is, at least, $15 and in one of the designated zip codes listed at its website, scheduled for drop-offs on specified days
Bailey is seeing signs that a more permanent location is helping the Flint community understand exactly what Flint Fresh does and show the public it’s not a fly-by-night operation. The previous lack of a headquarters might have contributed to misperceptions that the organization is less structured and stable, Bailey adds.
The Food Hub gives residents a visible association with the support Flint Fresh provides.
“We have a home,” Bailey says. “We’re solid, we’re here for the long-term, and we’ve made a long-term commitment to them as well.”
For more information about the Food Hub visit the Flint Fresh website, www.flintfresh.com.