Increasing Farm Income and Local Food Access: A Case Study of a Collaborative Aggregation, Marketing, and Distribution Strategy That Links Farmers to Markets

  • Michele C. Schmidt University of Vermont
  • Jane M. Kolodinsky University of Vermont
  • Thomas P. DeSisto University of Vermont
  • Faye C. Conte University of Vermont
Keywords: Aggregation, Collaborative, Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, Direct Marketing, Distributor, Food System, Participatory Action Research, Social Entrepreneurship, Vermont, Wholesale

Abstract

As consumer interest in locally grown food increases, farmers and organizations are working on inventive ways to supply fresh and affordable local food to residents. The Intervale Center, a nonprofit in Burlington, Vermont, partnered with small and midscale farmers to create the Intervale Food Hub, a collaborative of staff and farmers that aggregates, markets, and distributes local products through both a multifarm community supported agriculture (CSA) program and wholesale. Informed by surveys conducted to assess supply and demand in the region, the Food Hub provides businesses, restaurants, retailers, institutions, and individuals with year-round access to a diverse mix of fresh and value-added local food. The Intervale Center serves as a local distributor, purchasing products from up to 30 farmers and coordinating packaging, marketing, distribution, and business operations. Year-round, shared space is available to conduct business operations, including packaging and short-term storage. After three years of operation, the Food Hub has begun exploring ownership structures and geographic expansion. Using a participatory action research approach, this case study reviews the enterprise's development and outcomes. We provide a qualitative assessment of farmer and staff perceptions of successful practices and limitations, and conclude with recommendations for future research.

Author Biographies

Michele C. Schmidt, University of Vermont
Center for Rural Studies, 206 Morrill Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405 USA; +1-802-656-0256.
Jane M. Kolodinsky, University of Vermont
Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, 202 Morrill Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405 USA; +1-802-656-4616.
Thomas P. DeSisto, University of Vermont
Center for Rural Studies, 206 Morrill Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405 USA; +1-802-656-3021.
Faye C. Conte, University of Vermont
Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, 206 Morrill Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405 USA; +1-802-656-3021.
Published
2011-08-25
How to Cite
Schmidt, M., Kolodinsky, J., DeSisto, T., & Conte, F. (2011). Increasing Farm Income and Local Food Access: A Case Study of a Collaborative Aggregation, Marketing, and Distribution Strategy That Links Farmers to Markets. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(4), 157-175. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2011.014.017
Section
Food Value Chains Call Papers