Food hub could be built in Richmond

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — The head of the Richmond County office of the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension Service received a green light to apply for a grant that could fund construction of a food hub in Richmond County.

The project could be a boon to local farmers, said Susan Kelly, executive director, during the Richmond County commissioners’ public meeting on Monday in Rockingham.

If approved, the proposal would create an aggregation, transportation, marketing and light processing facility in Richmond County. The facility would be managed by the Sandhills Farm to Table cooperative. Space could be rented to other new food businesses as well.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Susan Kelly, shown here driving a tractor in the 2014 Farmers Day Parade in Ellerbe, presented to the Richmond County commissioners on Monday a grant application for a Green Fields Initiative that will aid local farmers' ability to reach new markets.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Susan Kelly, shown here driving a tractor in the 2014 Farmers Day Parade in Ellerbe, presented to the Richmond County commissioners on Monday a grant application for a Green Fields Initiative that will aid local farmers’ ability to reach new markets.

The project is a joint one with Moore County government, which paid $25,000 for a feasibility study. Richmond County’s commitment is $130,000 in cash contribution or in-kind services, Kelly said. The project budget is $679,850, with balance potentially coming in the form of a grant from Golden Leaf Foundation. The application must be submitted by March 13.

As explained in a memorandum to commissioners last week, area farmers “face declining tobacco acreage and aspire to increase markets beyond existing direct-to-consumer sales. The food hub will aggregate, perform light processing and broadly market Sandhills-grown products to new buyers.”

Kelly said Richmond County farmers benefit from Moore County consumers and high-end volume buyers such as Pinehurst Resorts.

“All farmers benefit from interest in the Sandhills produce from out-of-market buyers, which supports increased production of high value speciality crops,” the memorandum explained.

Green Fields Initiative

Separately but intertwined, Kelly noted that her office has received $50,000 from the North Carolina Department of Commerce Economic Development Competitive Grant Program for the Underserved and Limited Resource Communities for the Green Fields Initiative. No county match is required.

The GFI is a five-year strategic economic plan for agriculture and natural resources in Richmond, Moore and Lee counties.

The goals are to:

* Retain the number of acres devoted to agriculture and forestry at 2007 levels over the next five years, while increasing the number of people entering farming or forestry by 1 percent per year;

* Produce and consume more agricultural and forestry products in the region, resulting in an increase in average farm income by 20 percent over the next five years and an increase in forestry management plans by 10 percent over the same period;

3. Raise the profile of agriculture and timber industries so they are widely recognized by local and regional policymakers, politicians, community and business leaders, and others as being critical and essential economic drivers. By 2018, the region will be generally recognized as a leader in sustainable agriculture and community development.

would like to form nonprofit. green fields intiaitive would do – consutlant – to make sure this plan doesn’t sit on the shelf.

many stakeholders in 3county area.

——————————

14 – s kelly

food hub – in richmond county. many food hubs around country. we feel – great benefit to the farmers of richmond county.

study – enough producers and plenty of consumer demand.

sndhills farm to tabel (coop baed in moore county).

last year, sold $650K of produce. 63 % went of that went to farmers, much was richmond county.

sandhills farm to table would administer. county woudl own facilitiy.

ask richmodn county – provide land and services up to $130,000. proposal due

March 13.

processing – missing piece of infrastructure.

Filed in: Farm & Ag, Latest Headlines, News

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