TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. — North Country farmers and food producers will soon be able to access shared regional processing facilities, distribution services and marketing opportunities, thanks to a successful grant proposal from The Hub, also known as the ADK Food Hub, in Tupper Lake, N.Y. The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) announced the small farm and food hub has been awarded nearly $500,000 in grant funding through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Local Food Promotion Program.
Tupper Lake: ADK Food Hub Awarded $500K Grant Through USDA
Hub owner Cherie Whitten will use the $395,000 grant and $100,000 of largely in-kind matching funds to provide small-scale and low-income food producers with support for production, aggregation, distribution and marketing of local food. The project will ultimately bring more high-quality, nutritious food to rural and low-income consumers who currently have limited access to local farm products.
“I am so pleased to have resources to help fund my passion for healthy local food production and the related economic strength of our community,” said Whitten, who also owns and operates Whitten Family Farm in Winthrop, N.Y. “I hope to utilize this grant to support the growth of local food production infrastructure, focusing on crops that are the most profitable to our farmers and nutritious for our consumers. I hope this project helps to retain a portion of the billion dollars that leaves the North Country each year to purchase non-locally produced food. The retention of our local food dollars should have a strong positive economic impact in our area.”
Founded by Whitten in 2017, The Hub is a local food aggregation site, market and eatery that carries products from over 39 area farms and markets raw and processed products directly to consumers.
The goal of Whitten’s project is to provide research-based resources and technical support for small farms and food businesses, provide aggregated processing and distribution services, and increase community access to raw, processed and value-added local food products. The project will also provide education and outreach to producers and consumers who would benefit from the Hub’s expansion.
ANCA Local Food Systems Program Director Adam Dewbury provided Whitten with technical support during the grant application process. Carly Summers of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County fielded targeted questions from Whitten, and Hub employee Shannon Klein provided administrative support.
“For years, Cherie has been working tirelessly to increase access to local food in our region, especially for middle- and low-income residents,” said Dewbury. “This grant will be a key component in allowing her to achieve her vision, and her project will have a significant positive impact on local communities, farmers and our local food economy.”
Dewbury said ANCA will support Whitten’s team with capturing and reporting metrics, as well as with aggregation mapping. He added, “This project aligns closely with several of ANCA’s strategic goals that focus on expanding marketing opportunities and supply chain networks for North Country producers. We’re happy to support The Hub in this important work.”
Designed to roll out over three years, the project will focus on research, planning, education and outreach during its first year. By year two, The Hub plans to operate a full-scale commercial kitchen that will provide skilled staff, specialized equipment and a shared space where existing and aspiring food businesses can process and package products for market. The facility is projected to handle produce from over 80 small farms in low-income areas and incubate at least ten new value-added food processing businesses.
ANCA Executive Director Elizabeth Cooper said, “We applaud Cherie for her vision and hard work developing this project and thank the USDA for supporting her efforts. The Hub’s research and facilities expansion will go a long way in strengthening the region’s local food economy and providing aggregated services that are critical to the survival of our rural region’s small farms and food businesses. We believe this is a model for sustainable economic growth, where producers and consumers benefit, while supporting a strong local food system.”
ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New York. Using innovative strategies for food systems, clean energy, small businesses, and equity and inclusion, ANCA delivers targeted interventions that create and sustain wealth and value in local communities.
Photo at top: The ADK Food Hub in Tupper Lake, N.Y. has been awarded $495,000 in grant funding as part of the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program. Health Hub Facebook page photo.
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