LOCAL FOOD HUB ANNUAL REPORT 2021

Dear Friends of Local Food Hub,

After the tumultuous year of 2020, we entered 2021 both excited and apprehensive about what was to come. Among many unknowns was whether people would remember how local food systems kept them healthy and fed while the industrial food system was crippled by the pandemic. Would local food stay a priority for those it helped? Would local farms continue to survive? Would food access remain in public consciousness as the pressing issue it is? We were hopeful, but couldn’t be sure. This community did not let us down. Our drive-through markets have continued to thrive, and when we asked for help to fund Fresh Farmacy, you all came through with a resounding “yes!,” allowing us to meet our goal of continuing the program into the winter. The network of food hubs that we coordinate grew even stronger and more established, and our farm support services continue to expand. All of this ongoing growth and success is only made possible through the support of this community. Thank you.

Kristen Suokko Executive Director

We’ve accomplished a lot this year.

Meetings of food hubs across the East Coast, facilitated by Local Food Hub

thousand dollars of fresh, Virginia-grown produce was distributed through Fresh Farmacy

thousand in sales through the Drive-Through Market

Farmers added to the Virginia Black Farmer Directory

Here is a summary of our work to support small family farms and healthy communities.

FARM SUPPORT

2021 REFLECTIONS:

The past few years have shone a harsh light on the history of discrimination and disenfranchisement among farmers of color in this country. Black farmers alone have lost over 14 million acres of land since the 1920s. In early 2021, we hired Briana Stevenson to serve as the inaugural Grower Outreach and Diversity Coordinator. In this role, she focuses specifically on supporting minority-owned farms. One of her key projects has been the development of the Virginia Black Farmer Directory, described below.

Local Food Hub’s other Farm Support programming also underwent major developments. We spent the year working on a series of online modules focused on on-farm implementation of food safety practices. The pilot course will launch in January 2022, and all participants will gain a certificate of completion. The course is also being reviewed to become an official add-on curriculum to the Produce Safety Rule training. 

2022: A Look Ahead

In addition to launching the online module series in 2022, Local Food Hub will launch its custom-built recordkeeping app. This app is a simple but powerful and customizable tool that will help farmers be confident they are keeping up with all required food safety records. The app can even be used offline, a significant benefit in rural areas. We will also launch the Virginia Black Farmer Directory, an interactive, searchable directory that thoughtfully lifts up the stories of Black farmers and gives them a great deal of control over how to present themselves and their products.

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Keep up the great work! You all are wonderful to work with.

LFH partner farm

DRIVE-THROUGH MARKETS

2021 REFLECTIONS:

The drive-through markets continue to fill a valuable need in our community. Vendors praise the short time commitment of each market and that the preorder system means they can prepare the exact quantity they need, reducing product waste. Customers praise the convenience of the online ordering system and drive-through pickup. The market has also served as a consistently safe and reliable shopping experience during the ups and downs of coronavirus variants. In 2021, the markets supported 57 small food vendors and sold over $350K in food.

Households served by market

2022: A Look Ahead

The primary goal of our markets remains to serve as a valuable sales outlet to our vendors. As the market landscape continues to shift in response to COVID, we will continue to listen to what our vendors and our customers tell us they need.

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The pre-order nature works great for our business because we are able to send just one staff to market and we know our income ahead of time. We love the LFH market and are grateful it exists

Bellair Farm

COMMUNITY AND POLICY 

2021 REFLECTIONS:

In 2021, we continued to serve as the backbone organization for the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative, a collection of food hubs across the east coast that are committed to sharing best practices, collaborating and building a sales network that allows consumers to enjoy longer produce seasons while knowing their food comes from small, family farms. Plus, farmers and food hubs alike enjoy the benefit of increased sales outlets. In a particularly yummy success story from the year, Fresh Farmacy participants enjoyed Vermont cheese on multiple occasions! We have also continued our racial justice journey – a contingent of staff and board participated in an eight-week training on organizational racial justice. The full staff met on a biweekly basis to further understanding and growth in this area, and the Board dedicated time at each bimonthly meeting to learning and discussion.
 

Food Hubs in the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative

2022: A Look Ahead

Local Food Hub has secured federal funding to take the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative to the next level, including funds for a full-time staff person to support the Collaborative. We remain committed to the various community coalitions we serve on, including serving as a steering committee member of the Charlottesville Food Justice Network, and coordinating the Healthy Food Systems action team of the Move2Health Equity Coalition.

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The Eastern Food Hub Collaborative is a key component of the scaffolding required to build a new food system. As values-aligned distributors aggregating from producers in all but one of the same USDA growing zones represented on the West Coast, we see an opportunity to build an interconnected regional network of hubs that can replace the industrial supply chain that is so badly broken. Local Food Hub, as the convener and leader of this Collaborative, has been instrumental in bringing it to life, and now helping it to grow into something that may truly be transformative for the future of our food system.

Tom Mcdougall, 4P Foods

FOOD ACCESS

2021 REFLECTIONS:

In 2020, our food access programs expanded exponentially in response to overwhelming need and an influx of emergency food access funding. In 2021, we sought to balance the still-heightened need with funding availability and long-term program sustainability. Program participation leveled out at approximately 435 households, served biweekly from January and into October and beyond. In September, we started our new role as the regional lead for the Virginia Fresh Match Program. Fresh Match partners with food retailers like grocery stores and farmer’s markets to double the value of SNAP benefits (the federal nutrition assistance program) when spent on fresh produce. As the regional lead, we will support retailers in joining, managing and promoting the Fresh Match program at their locations. Local Food Hub also became a certified SNAP vendor in 2021.

Households served per week by Fresh Farmacy

2022: A Look Ahead

Long-term sustainability is top of mind as we move into the new year. We are in conversation with program partners and community groups about how to best ensure that food access work done in the community is not just a bandaid, but a cure. This includes piloting pop-up farmer’s markets for participants in partnership with several partner clinics.
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Many thanks for providing this way of helping us eat more healthfully. I have never had this before. It has been very useful for me because I have high blood pressure and the produce really is fresh and very helpful for our health. Thank you.

Fresh farmacy participant

As we look ahead, we are focused on continuing to grow and strengthen our existing services, approaching everything through the lens of equity.

2022 will see several major projects come to fruition, including:

– Our custom-build recordkeeping app for farmers

– A series of online educational modules focused on Produce Safety Rule compliance

– The Virginia Black Farmer Directory, an interactive, searchable directory that thoughtfully lifts up the stories of Black farmers and gives them a great deal of control over how to present themselves and their products.

– Accessible and affordable pop-up farmer’s markets in partnership with Fresh Farmacy partner clinics.

As a nonprofit, we rely on community support to continue our programs. Your investment ensures small farms are always at the center of our work, and that our community has access to healthy, local food.
Board of Directors

Local Food Hub benefits from a talented Board of Directors who provide strategic guidance and expertise to support our mission.

Kathryn Barker,
Network Administrator, Peabody School

John Blackburn, Associate Director of Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy

Steve Byrd, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Research

Anna Payne Fife,
Independent Consultant
Robin Gilliland,
Principal and Acting CFO, Keller Enterprises

Tom McDougall, Founder and CEO, 4P Foods

Elizabeth Beasley, Community Relations Lead, UVA Health Systems

Martha Hodgkins,
Communications Director, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

Marcus Comer, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor, Virginia State University

Ronnie Webb, President, The Green Scheme

Our Staff 

In 2020, Local Food Hub was pleased to welcome Briana Stevenson as Grower Outreach and Diversity Coordinator and Emily Houston as Market Manager. Other staff includes:

Logan Blanco, Accounting

Portia Boggs, Director of Advancement and Communication

Laura Brown, Director of Community and Policy

Stasia Greenewalt, Director of Grower Services

Melissa Luce, Bookkeeping

Kristen Suokko, Executive Director

Andy Wood, Intern

Our Partner Farms 

Local Food Hub’s farms represent the bounty and diversity of the Virginia foodshed. Some operate 100 acre farms, others less than five acres. They are certified organic and conventional farmers, orchardists and value added producers, and those new to farming as well as seasoned veterans.

Your support provides healthy futures for our community.
The work we have accomplished together is thanks to your partnership and commitment to a stronger, more resilient food system. Thank you for supporting small family farms and healthy communities!