LOCAL FOOD HUB ANNUAL REPORT 2020

Dear Friends of Local Food Hub,

What a year. When the pandemic began, we faced a bleak reality: Food insecurity rates quickly increased among already vulnerable groups, and farmers lost opportunities to sell their produce. At the same time, the industrial food system started breaking down – shelves went empty, and large farms had to throw out thousands of pounds of produce and livestock. But if 2020 showed the weaknesses in our food system, it also showed the power and adaptability of a localized approach. Small farms and food access organizations rallied and adapted in incredible ways.  Along with many partners and supporters, Local Food Hub was able to:

  • Create the first COVID-safe drive-through market in Charlottesville. That market has now supported over 30 farms and reinvested over $600K to the local economy.
  • Help hundreds of vulnerable households to healthfully shelter in place with weekly deliveries of local produce and protein through the Fresh Farmacy program.  
  • Provide local produce for other food access efforts, ensuring that emergency food programs offer fresh, nourishing options in addition to shelf-stable goods.
  • Begin a deep discussion about racial inequities in agriculture and incorporate these learnings into its future programming. 

This year proved what we have known all along – that local food systems are more nimble, sustainable, and resilient than their industrial counterparts. Our pandemic response programs will continue for the forseeable future, and we’ll work to harness the energy and the lessons of 2020 to work toward lasting change. Warmly, Kristen Suokko, Executive Director

We’ve accomplished a lot this year.

% increase in Fresh Farmacy shares over 2019

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

thousand in sales through the Drive-Through Market

thousand dollars given in cost-share

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

FARM SUPPORT

2020 REFLECTIONS:

Like other small, independently-owned businesses, small farms bore the brunt of the impact from the pandemic. In 2020, our Grower Services program provided not only the services farms need every year but also pandemic-specific support. We continued to offer financial and one-on-one technical assistance  to farms who needed it. We secured funding from the US Department of Agriculture to develop a series of workshops, in partnership with Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension, which translate federal regulations into actionable, achievable steps. Due to COVID, we have transitioned those workshops into an online class format that, once registered, farmers will be able to access anytime. 

2021: A Look Ahead

2021 will be a big year for farm support. We plan to increase staff capacity to expand our services, launch the on-demand video workshops, and develop a customizable platform that helps farms streamline record-keeping. We’ll also be customizing our programs to meet the specific needs of new and minority-owned farms.

“”

Thanks for helping farmers find markets for their produce in a timely fashion!

Church Hill Produce 

DRIVE-THROUGH MARKETS

2020 REFLECTIONS:

In March, as universities and restaurants closed, our partner farms saw their sales quickly plummet. It was clear that the infrastructure that normally connects small farms to the community was crumbling, and something new was needed. So, we built that something new. We launched the first COVID-safe, contactless market in Charlottesville – a market that quickly grew to twice a week, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. As the first market of this type in the area, we also supported other farmers markets throughout Charlottesville and Virginia as they adapted. We even consulted with a farmer’s market in California!  To date, the market has supported over 30 local farms and businesses. We plan to continue it for as long as our farmers need it.

number of farms and small businesses supported through market

2021: A Look Ahead

In 2021, we plan to continue to operate our drive-through markets on a year round basis, while also working to ensure that Charlottesville is thinking long-term about how farmers markets can be safer and more diverse, accessible, and sustainable.

“”

I can’t thank the Local Food Hub  enough for responding so quickly and effectively for local, small farmers.  They are an invaluable organization, who live by their mission and are willing to do the hard work of helping farmers in real life.

Market Vendor

COMMUNITY AND POLICY 

2020 REFLECTIONS:

Significant impact and long-term change is only possible through collaboration. Local Food Hub continued its involvement in numerous community coalitions and steering committees. We led an effort to form the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative, joined with the Charlottesville Food Justice Network to begin a conversation about Black and brown farming, and helped facilitate recommendations to the Governor’s Commission to Review Racial Equity in Virginia Law.

$ awarded to partner farms through the Innovations in Agriculture Awards

2021: A Look Ahead
We will continue to work with our many partners to make sure that our programs are addressing community needs and building a strong regional food infrastructure. We’ll  convene a virtual meeting for the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative in February of 2021, continue our collaboration with the Charlottesville Food Justice Network, and champion policies that benefit independent farms and address inequities in the food system.  
“”

We believe that racial and economic inequities in farming and food access — which mirror larger systemic issues dating back to our country’s founding — must end.

Local food hub statement

FOOD ACCESS

2020 REFLECTIONS:

Before the pandemic hit, one in five adults in Charlottesville didn’t know where their next meal might come from, and COVID-19 only exacerbated that situation. We knew immediately that the vulnerable in our community would have more need than ever for fresh, nourishing food. In response, we grew  our Fresh Farmacy program fivefold,serving more people, more often, and for longer than ever before. In addition to serving more participants at existing sites, we also expanded to new sites, including two subsidized housing communities in the city. We also partnered with other food access organizations to offer fresh food alongside shelf-stable, processed options.

number of weeks in program season

2021: A Look Ahead

The heightened food insecurity brought about by COVID19 will remain for some time to come. Local Food Hub will continue to operate Fresh Farmacy  year-round to approximately 450 participants. Deliveries will be weekly or biweekly as funding allows.We are also expanding the program in exciting ways, including a partnership with the Blue Ridge Area Health District and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital to serve a group of HIV-positive individuals.
“”

I am very grateful for the food that they bring to our home. I have been out of work for a month and a half and this help they give me is very useful for me and my family.

Fresh farmacy participant

The challenge of 2021 will be to harness the energy and the lessons of the past year to make lasting change. 2020 illustrated just how many benefits local food has over industrial food supply chains; demonstrated how inequities will quickly deepen in a damaged system; and brought the systemic oppression and ongoing struggles of Black and brown farmers to the forefront. Our 2021 policies and programs will tackle these issues and contribute to an even stronger, more resilient, more equitable local food system. 

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,
Senior Manager for Board, Executive and Strategic Initiatives, Share Our Strength
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
Ken Kipps,
Vice President for Administration, University of Virginia College Foundation
Kristina Koutrakos,
Director of Portfolio Strategy, Virginia Retirement System
Wendy Philleo,
Executive Director, Generation 180

Ronnie Webb, President, The Green Scheme

Our Staff 

In 2020, Local Food Hub was pleased to welcome Melissa Luce and Logan Blanco to the Accounting team, as well as Kittie Cooper as Market Associate and Andy Wood as intern.

Pictured below: Laura Brown (Community and Policy), Portia Boggs (Advancement and Communications), Kittie Cooper (Market Associate), Stasia Greenwalt (Grower Services), Kristen Suokko (Executive Director), and Emily Houston (Market Volunteer)

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!