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K-State Research and Extension

Local food hub benefits farmers, consumers

Five years ago, it seemed like a simple idea: find a way to help smallholder farmers in Kansas sell the food they grow to more people.

K-State Research and Extension helps farmers become more efficient, more profitable and more self-sustaining. We also assist consumers and communities. Local food-system development is community vitality.

The food hub is a producer cooperative that goes beyond selling food at local farmers markets. The food hub helps farmers sell their products to larger buyers, such as restaurants, hospitals, schools and food companies.

“For the most part, farmers are really good at retail and direct sales, and we are kind of good at what I call the ‘easy wholesale’ — such as chefs and grocery stores,” said Jill Elmers, owner of Moon on the Meadow Farm in Lawrence. “But there is a whole new, larger world that farmers have not even begun to tap into.”

In 2011, an ad hoc group in Kansas City, Missouri, began talking about developing a food hub for the region. The Douglas County Food Policy Council joined the effort and in 2014 asked K-State Research and Extension to help pursue the next steps.

Today, smallholder farmers in Kansas have numerous options for providing their goods through the food hub.

This food hub allows K-State Research and Extension to think critically about how to grow the local food system in a way that invests back into Kansas farmers and also benefits Kansas communities and consumers.