via Anne Alonzo, @USDA_AMS
Haile Johnston and his wife, Tatiana Garcia-Granados, saw a lack of access to healthy fruits and vegetables in some Philadelphia communities. They were particularly concerned about the limited sourcing options for schools and hospitals. They thought it was a just a question of coordination.
Their solution? Common Market, a food hub business model that connects local farmers in the rural Mid-Atlantic region with wholesale urban customers. It primarily serves schools and hospitals…and it’s capitalizing on the growing interest in local foods. From the USDA Blog:
“The core of Common Market is selling to schools and hospitals,” said Johnston. “Historically, they have been the hardest institutions to reach. They serve the most vulnerable population. That’s why we focus on partnering with schools and hospitals.”
Common Market started with one truck. In the first year, they worked with a dozen farmers and had 22 customers. Last year, Common Market received funding through the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program, which is a grant program created by the 2014 Farm Bill. It supports direct-to-consumer outlet models. The USDA grant has enabled Common Market to add a fourth truck and purchase coolers that will make the delivery process more efficient (and greener: less driving).
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers the program, reports that:
“In 2015, Common Market is poised to sell more than $3 million in local foods and will be working with 80 family farms and 250 customers. Common Market’s positive impact on its surrounding community is just one example of how USDA is using the Farm Bill to increase opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and businesses across the country.”