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Buying Into Local Food
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The local food movement, often perceived as benefitting higher-income earners and the yuppies of the world, has taken cities by storm. Urban farming, CSA-share programs and farmers’ markets appear here to stay.
But can local food also benefit lower-income residents? As cities make strides in combating urban food deserts, can local food be part of the solution?
A worthwhile read, the article describes how the Harlem-based Corbin Hill Farm uses an adaptation of the traditional CSA (community-supported agriculture) design where members pay dues at the beginning of the season and receive shares of the produce throughout the season. Corbin Hill’s model, geared specifically toward bringing healthy produce in to low-income communities, allows members to pay just a week in advance and put shares on hold at any time. Members can even pay with government assistance.
The program has been so successful that it exceeded its goal of 175 shareholders in the first year; it had 195 signed up in the first week. Now in its third year, the CSA serves 750 shareholders. It will need to reach 1,200 to become profitable, a goal that founder Dennis Derryck thinks is more than feasible.
As Thompson explains, “If it works, Corbin Hill Farm could be a great example of the real impact investment in local food can have when both growers and eaters find power in numbers. Farmers working together upstate benefit from a streamlined distribution process and a guaranteed market; and the more city people buy in, the easier it is to keep prices affordable.”
Food cluster examples like these are essential because they highlight the opportunities for job creation and urban improvement (namely, health, in this case) through growth in the food movement. But the food cluster is far more vast than just urban farming and CSAs—it also includes production, distribution, warehousing and traditional retail (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.).
ICIC has been working in Boston and Detroit to analyze the cities’ local food clusters and the opportunities for growth within each. To learn more about ICIC’s food cluster work, click here. Indeed, many food-related businesses are thriving: 12 food-related firms from across the county made the 2012 Inner City 100 list.
To read the entire Grist article on Corbin Hill Farm, click here.
BY Amanda Maher on July 6th, 2012
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