Recently we’ve heard a lot of questions about Food Hubs: what are they? What do they do? How is a Food Hub different from other operations? Hopefully our FAQ section can shed a little light on these questions and provide guidance on how to join the North Valley Food Hub.

Q: What is a Food Hub?

Food hubs can take many forms, but most are designed to make it easier for local food producers and buyers connect and transact.   The North Valley Food Hub (NVFH) is currently operating solely online.  With one shopping cart, one payment, wholesale food buyers can purchase from many different farmers.  Food hubs are typically a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.

Q: As a food producer, why should I join the NVFH?

  • Increase revenues with new sales and distribution opportunities
  • Showcase your story and products for farmers
  • Stay organized with email reminders, pick lists & packing slips
  • Stay on top of your business with informative sales reports
  • Save time on administration & marketing so you can produce more great food for your customers

Q: As a food buyer, why should I join the NVFH?

Benefits of joining the NVFH as a buyer include:

  • Boost your competitive advantage. 2 out of 3 people surveyed by the National Restaurant Association are more likely to patronize a restaurant that sources locally
  • Good stories are good for sales. Customers are willing to pay a premium for food if they know who, how, & where it was produced. Know your farmers, tell their stories.
  • Delight your customers. Local producers offer small-batch, heritage varieties of produce & meats that have disappeared from the industrial food system, adding more color and flavors to your menu & reducing menu fatigue.

Q: How do I get started using the NVFH online market?

Start selling/buying in 3 easy steps:

  • Request an online account
  • Verify your email & get approved
  • Sellers: Add inventory and start selling! Buyers: Start ordering! 

Q: How will the products be delivered or transported?

The products sold and purchased through the NVFH will be exchanged at temporary Pop-Up markets. We anticipate the delivery and transportation logistics to be an ongoing process and hope to continue overcoming limitations associated with food transportation. 

Q: How do I (the producer) get paid for the products that I sell on the site?

You will get paid by the NVFH via check or ACH transfer when your products are delivered to the Pop-Up Market.

Q: Will my farm lose its identity by selling our products through the NVFH?

No. All products sold through the NVFH will remain source-identified by the farm of origin.

Q: Will the NVFH help market my farm’s products?

Yes. The NVFH Market Manager will help to broker and facilitate sales of products posted to the online marketplace.

Q: What if we (the buyer) decide that the product doesn’t meet the quality assurance standards that we expect in our business?

We are working with experienced produce buyers to set standards of quality for the products we sell. The NVFH will work with growers and buyers onsite at the Pop-Up Markets to ensure quality meets everyone’s expectations. You will not be expected to buy something that does not meet your expectations. 

Q: How does the North Valley Food Hub define local food?

The term “local food system” (or “regional food system”) is used to describe food production and distribution that is geographically localized, rather than national and/or international. Food is grown (or raised) and harvested close to consumers' homes, then distributed over much shorter distances than is common in the conventional global industrial food system. Although perceptions of what makes up “local food” differ by region most researchers accept that eating locally means minimizing the distance between production and consumption, especially in relation to the modern mainstream food system. The North Valley Region, for our purposes defines local as within the tri-county area of Butte, Glenn, and Tehama. 

Q: How do I upload a new product to the NVFH online marketplace?

We have created this checklist as a guide to help you make sure you have taken all the necessary steps to successfully upload your product to be viewed by buyers on the Shop page.
Product Upload Checklist:

  • Choose your product from the Product Category listings
  • Add a short description
  • Add the unit type
  • Add inventory *note, if you are using advanced inventory with expiration dates, expired product will not show on the Shop page
  • Add price
  • Add image *note, if you don’t add an image a default blue scarecrow icon will show up
  • Make sure you have your desired delivery options checked

Q: Do you have any tips for uploading photos of the items I want to sell?

Here are some simple tips to take your photos from boring to beautiful: http://localorbit.com/4-photography-tips-for-stellar-product-images/

Q: How is the Food Hub funded?

The North Valley Food Hub online is currently funded by a Farmers’ Market Promotion Program grant through the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The grant was awarded to the Northern California Regional Land Trust’s Local Food Systems program.

Q: Who creates the Seller/Farmer/Grower profiles?

Once you have received your login information, you can create your own profile and add a picture and showcase your story and products for buyers.  If you would like assistance creating your profile, please contact the NVFH Market Manager, Gina Sims gina@landconservation.org

Q: Is my local co-op a food hub? What about the farmers’ market?

Local co-ops and farmers’ markets are great ways for consumers to access regionally produced food, they do not qualify as food hubs. Food hubs are not intended to replace farmers’ markets or co-ops. Farmers’ markets and co-ops are primarily retail (farm to consumer) operations.   A food hub’s main purpose is to help small farmers gain access to larger volume markets by coordinating a local supply chain through a network of local wholesale partnerships.

Q: What are some Impacts of food hubs?

Economic: By supporting and promoting regional food procurement, food hubs have the potential to increase the economic vitality of food businesses in a region. When institutions such as hospitals and schools with tremendous buying power commit to procuring regional food, they generate more revenue within their local communities. Effects of food hubs can also be seen in job creation in food-related businesses all the way from producers to consumers.

Social: Food hubs that offer business training and community programming are creating connections across many community members. Food business professionals learn from one another. Activities that build awareness of relevant issues related to food production also increase social ties. Many food hubs work for the social good, donating “seconds” to food banks and therefore increasing healthy food access.

Environmental: Whether it’s through increasing the amount of food bought within our immediate communities, teaching new methods of sustainable production, or hosting environmental awareness programming, food hubs can play a large and visible role in positive environmental change.

Source: http://washtenawfoodhub.com/tag/food-hub-definition/

Q: Who is the North Valley Food Hub for?

The North Valley Food Hub serves: 

  • Buyer: Bakeries, caterers, colleges or universities, culinary schools, food banks or food assistance programs, food service contractors, grocers, healthcare facilities, hotels, motels, resorts and B&Bs, packer/processors, personal chefs, restaurants, schools or specialty retailers.
  • Seller: Farmers, ranchers, fishermen, dairies, brewers, distilleries, wineries, food processor/manufacturers, brokers or wholesale distributors.
  • Associate: Academic or research institutions, certifiers, commodity commissions, farmers’ markets, economic development agencies, government agencies, logistics or transport providers, non-profits, service providers/suppliers to the food/ag trade, or trade associations.
  • Distributor: Distribution is an important part of the local food chain. Currently the North Valley Food Hub does not have the capacity to deliver food orders. We hope to be able to offer this service at some point in the future and we are open to talking with distributors and those interested in sharing trucking or refrigeration space.