Food is an increasingly political topic. Every time we sit down to eat we are casting a vote for the global market. The ways in which we grow, distribute and consume food have a dramatic impact on public policy let alone planetary health. So the choice to be food-forward is not simply a fad. It’s a way to engage in activism.

It’s no surprise the ethics of food isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry scenario. Our snarled web of supply chains leaves even the most well-intentioned consumers wondering how they can make the “right” choice when they hit the grocer. Thankfully, agricultural innovators and community leaders are finding ways to decentralize our food regime and provide sustainable avenues for the consumer.

Food Hubs

Many of us are familiar with our local farmer’s market and some may have even participated in community supported agriculture (CSA). Both of these options cast a vote for food justice but they still require a good deal of time and effort from the farmer—especially small family farms. Swimming against the currents of the industrial food system is hard work. But many hands makes for light work.

Cue food hubs. A key component of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, food hubs are operations that allow regional producers to collaborate on marketing and distribution. The term applies to a broad range of different groups and organizations, from multi-farm co-ops to online marketplaces where people can connect and exchange food goods. But each individual model is rooted by the belief that individual farms can’t survive in a vacuum.

Food hubs allow both producer and consumer to find a more comfortable niche. They offer a way for small-scale farmers to deconsolidate their operations and focus on what they’re good at: farming. Additionally, they give more voice to the consumer by shortening the supply chain and pumping money into the local economy. Each food hub is unique, but they all aim to empower both sides of the exchange.

img_2

Thinking Ahead

Growing food is such a powerful and symbolic way to connect with the earth. For longer than has been fashionable, HLG has been creating edible landscapes for our customers. Being ahead of the curve is something we take pride in. We believe that plants not only beautify the land but also nourish the health and vitality of the creatures that live on it. But there is still more that we can do.

With the scale of our operations we are capable of creating a great yield. This spring we planted hundreds of edibles in a wide variety of cultivars. All across the twin cities we are installing and tending to perfectly wonderful food crops. When we set our attention to harvesting these crops, it isn’t unusual to have a surplus of material. This is something we are trying to resolve.

Moving forward, we are working to identify ways that we can redistribute the abundance produced in our gardens. HLG may not be fully capable of peddling market-ready produce at this point in time, but we’re inspired by the models of food hubs. Our intention is to continue growing food and letting our clients benefit from the harvest. Though, when there is surplus, we wish to be mindful of where it goes. With your help, we could make sizable donations to area food shelves and perhaps even create a hub of our own.

This dynamic is still unfolding for us and the process is very illuminating. Establishing solid connections within the local food hub network will take some time. But we’re hopeful that with our clients cooperation, we will be able to create something truly wonderful.