Mission & Vision
The North Valley Food Hub is committed to building a vibrant, active and efficient localized food system in California’s North Valley.
We aim to:
- preserve local farmland and support local producers by creating high value markets that enable producers to stay in farming and on their land
- grow the local economy by increasing local food sales, creating jobs and stimulating rural development
- help local food businesses grow and succeed by providing ongoing educational and technical assistance opportunities for buyers and sellers
- support and grow consumer desire to eat local food by providing products that are high quality, source-identified, and competitively priced
- uphold the highest standards of food safety, accountability and professionalism using adaptive, innovative, and sophisticated management systems
- build key public and private partnerships with the expertise and resources to collaborate on growing a local food system that benefits producers, consumers, local food buyers and the community as a whole
- maintain a positive, growth oriented work environment that models collaboration, respect and support for all of our employees, clients, collaborators, partners and others we work with
Conversations with growers and buyers in the North Valley region have revealed that they want the same thing – more locally grown food in the marketplace – so what is getting in the way?
The North Valley Food Hub was born out of five years of targeted activity in California’s North Valley region aimed at developing a vibrant and productive local food system. In 2009 the Local Food Systems program was established at the Northern California Regional Land Trust ("The Land Trust”) and began initially by starting Buy Fresh Buy Local, North Valley (BFBLNV), a network of growers and buyers that has grown to over 100 members. The existence of the BFBLNV network in the region proved to play a critical role in helping local food system leaders in the North Valley access grower knowledge and understand in more depth the true barriers they face when trying to develop and access new markets, and also the struggles buyers must overcome in order to purchase directly from local growers.
In 2011, the Local Food System program, in collaboration with Dr. Jacob Brimlow, an agricultural economist from the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico, measured the North Valley region’s capacity to feed itself with locally produced food by comparing crop production patterns with consumption patterns. Strikingly the estimates showed that 70% of consumption needs could be met with local production in the tri-county region of Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. When compared with local food consumption, which is likely less than 5%, this indicated substantial opportunity for growth.
A formal randomized survey administered to 200 growers in the North Valley and an interview tool administered to 25 wholesale buyers confirmed our anecdotal observations; 20% of growers are not producing at capacity because they don’t have consistent markets, 79% of growers said they would grow more if there was a market and 55% said they would use a food hub if one was available in the region. Buyers consistently stated that the difficulty of managing the logistics of buying from multiple growers kept them from sourcing more food locally. Our research made it very clear that the local food system for the North Valley region would not flourish without infrastructure like a food hub, an online purchasing system, cold-storage and eventually coordination of transportation logistics.
At the same time market research was being conducted, the Local Food Systems program leveraged a partnership with 3CORE, Inc. to conduct a feasibility study assessing the viability of a food hub and cold-storage facility for the region. The study was sponsored by Rabobank, NA. Just as the results of the feasibility study were showing that an online food hub model with minimal infrastructure was a more feasible market entry strategy, the land trust was awarded a 2012 Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant to build the website for an online food hub for growers in California’s North Valley from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service
The North Valley Food Hub has been supported by invaluable community involvement: in addition to several key partnerships with organizations such as 3CORE and the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion, Chico Natural Foods Co-operative, the Butte County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, and the North State Food Bank, the project received formative input from two Technical Advisory Committees. Committee members including farmers, ranchers, food buyers, community organizations and agricultural experts participated in countless meetings and provided valuable input into the food hub’s development.
In the summer of 2014, after nearly a year and a half developing the website and defining our core role and mission, the North Valley Food Hub was born! We are eager to help local food producers and buyers manage wholesale relationships and logistics to make it easier to buy and sell local food.