SPEARFISH - The Black Hills Food Hub, hosted by Black Hills State University, is coming to the end of its first harvest season.
There are many small produce farms in the region, and the Hub combines produce from these growers in order to sell larger quantities to cafeterias that need to prepare up to thousands of meals per day. Through the Food Hub, ten farms sold a total of 1,344 pounds of produce from late May to mid-September, including 262 bags of greens, 40 heads of lettuce, and other vegetables and herbs. The goal of the Food Hub is to expand the local food market to encourage more producers to farm in our region.
This first season was a pilot run for the Food Hub, providing the coordination and weekly pick-ups and delivery between the farms and Rapid City Regional Hospital, the Food Hub’s first cafeteria customer. Xanterra’s Carver Café at Mount Rushmore National Monument was recently authorized to accept local produce through the Black Hills Food Hub, also. The Food Hub will operate through the winter months for growers with greenhouses and indoor production, although at a much reduced level.
“We’re excited about the momentum we’ve started this first summer and how we can grow this program to make a real economic impact in our community,” says Katie Greer, assistant director of Facilities Services at Black Hills State University.
The Black Hills Food Hub was launched at the end of 2015 through a $100,000 grant from the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program. Black Hills State University hosts the program. A local Spearfish business, Cobblestone Science, is contracted to run the Food Hub.
"Our first season was an unmitigated success. We learned a lot, and we'll work with the cafeteria chefs and growers in the upcoming months to make the 2017 season even better," says Dr. Rachel Headley, owner of Cobblestone Science.
The Food Hub launched from Black Hills State University’s Spearfish Local program, an initiative to bring together local producers, distributors, purchasers, and consumers of local food and other locally-sourced products. More information can be found at BHSU.edu/spearfishlocal.