2019 MVGA News
MVGA Partner with Oberlin Food Hub
GAP certified farmers in Northwest and North-central Ohio are in short supply. As a result, why not collaborate with another food hub to share each organization’s farmer connections to provide customers with fresh grown, locally produced items? That is exactly what the Maumee Valley Growers and the Oberlin Food hub’s have done this year.
Sharing farmer resources became necessary when not enough small growers elected to become GAP certified. Although this certification is voluntary, food distributors and some restaurants require it to participate in their supply chain procurement and sales, thus effectively making this a mandatory farmer requirement.
As more farmers evaluate the GAP certification process, MVGA and Oberlin partnership will continue to expand their programs and connect farmers with purchasers at the wholesale level. Farmer’s that consider expanding their offerings from a retail to a retail/wholesale operation is a major decision and sometimes take more than one growing season to conceptualize and plan. Hopefully, more farmers, will come on board in 2020.
Both food hubs continue to expand their operations in 2019 by adding produce varieties and volume capacities. As sales increase, so should incentives for new farmers to become certified.
Food Hub National Stats: Wallace Center
Food Hub: Season Starts 06-10-19
Although MVGA’s Food Hub is starting selling record amounts of Asparagus in May, the official start date for the hub was 06-10-19. There are new changes for 2019 that MVGA and their partners are implementing.
MVGA’s distributor, Sirna, and Sons will provide all pickup/delivery services. This change also offers more flexibility in choosing which days during the week that are most effective and increases the potential for sales volume opportunities.
MVGA is partnering with the Oberlin food Hub and their farmers. They provide a few items not currently offered by MVGA, thus increasing additional produce volume and variety. This collaboration also accelerates GAP certification for small farmers in N. Central part of Ohio.
Food procurement software designer Azoti, they will gradually integrate legacy software. This change provides long-term capabilities making it one of the first in the country to implement on a large scale. Combining systems eliminates the needs for chefs to use two separate ordering platforms, especially affecting local produce purchases.
Food Hub Operations Adjustment
MVGA’s first meeting of the new year was our Winter Workshop held at Brodbeck’s Greenhouse. The afternoon session focused on 2018 Food Hub accomplishments and 2019 activities and projections. There were two major discussion points:
2018’s sales were similar to 2017, so forecasts fell short of expectations.
MVGA’s Specialty Crop Grant ends in September 2019.
As a result, the MVGA Board and participating farmers recommended the following operational changes for 2019.
Transportation costs are too high as compared with volume levels.
Recommendation: All pickup/deliveries must be provided by the distributor (s)
Future expenses must be entirely supported through commission sales.
Recommendation: Commission sales must remain the same
Farmer’s unable to produce enough volume and variety in April/May.
Delay start of the program until June 1, 2019.
Small farmers cannot afford GAP certification resulting in less participation.
MVGA must add medium size growers that are GAP or FISMA certified.
As the food hub progresses year to year, sustainability remains a critical piece to its success.
2018 MVGA News
Food Hub Route Expansion
The MVGA food hub finished with similar sales in 2018 as compared to the previous year. A complete analysis of sustainability is under review by the Business committee to determine strategies and proposals for 2019 which will be discussed at the Winter Workshop at Broadbeck’s Greenhouse on 01-10-19. For more information contact Joe Perlaky at 419-356-4847 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MVGA continues to explore additional food hub delivery routes to include weekdays in addition to Saturday.
Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey
Executive Summary (March, 2018)
Survey Conducted by Michigan State University and the Wallace Ctr.
On average, 46% of a hub’s producers and suppliers are considered beginning farmers or businesses, meaning they began business in the last 10 years
89% of hubs source mostly or exclusively from small to mid-sized farms and ranches
82% of hubs say increasing small and mid-sized farmers,’ and ranchers’ access to markets is strongly related to their mission
Hubs are primarily sourcing from rural farms and ranches — 86% of farms supplying food hubs are rural
82% of hubs say ensuring producers and suppliers receive a fair price is related to their mission
A majority of hubs prefer their suppliers to have social and environmental certifications, though the number of hubs requiring these certifications is small
In 2017, 57% of hubs had staff responsible for the hub’s internal food safety compliance, up from 49% of hubs in 2015.
However, the data split between the high and low ends: for 17% of hubs selling to businesses or institutions, none of their customers required GAP; for 15% of hubs selling to businesses or institutions, all of their customers required GAP
Earth Day Celebrated by MVGA and UH Hospital
On 04-19-18, MVGA participated with approximate a dozen food and renewable energy vendors at University Hospital (UH) in Cleveland celebrating Earth Day. Nearly 5,000 UH employees had the opportunity to visit displays and discuss our buy local initiative, take a few produce handouts and view a PowerPoint presentation showing our small size farmers working their businesses. MVGA looks forward to participating again next year.
Buy Local Starts April 7th.
Local farm fresh produce is grown by our area small farmers is now available to our distributors for purchase and resale to retail buyers. (chefs).
Both Whitehouse Specialty Crops and Schmidlin's Greenhouse planted specifically to yield the food hubs first tomato crop this time of year. Small, medium and large slicers are available including, red & artisan grape tomatoes.
Safety is important to MVGA's food hub operation. Each month there will be 1-2 additional growers who will be GAP inspected and certified. This will result in new produce added every two weeks as the program ramps up this spring. We anticipate asparagus, a variety of greens such as salanova, baby spinach, some herbs and English cucumbers by the end of April and first of May.
2018 is the start of our third year, and we are looking forward to it!