Great Falls Food Hub Receives Grant

Publish Notes: 

The Shopper Bellows Falls, Vt. April 13,2011

Great Falls Food Hub Receives Grant

WESTMINSTER, VT.-The Great Falls Food Hub (GFFH) located in Westminster, is the recent recipient of a $25,000 grant fund from the John Merck Fund, which is a state funded program designed to foster innovative advocacy and problem solving in the fields such as environment, job opportunities and civic engagement.

Courtesy photo

GFFH is an extension of Post Oil Solutions, which partners with the Southeastern Vermont Community Action or SEVCA. The goal of GFFH is to support local agricultural endeavors throughout Windham and Windsor counties of Vermont and Sullivan and Cheshire counties in New Hampshire, by creating facilities and services to support farmers and other regional food producers.

The grant will allow GFFH to further expand its mission to develop a regional food and distribution center. The project plan could include a licensed, commercial-sized processing kitchen completed with an incubator, commercial and educational activities, frozen storage facilities used for ingredients and store-ready products, a regional distribution plan for fresh and stored local food products, as well as its own retail outlet.

"The $25,000 grant will enable us to complete the feasibility research currently underway," Carl Mailler said in a recent interview. Mailler is the project coordinator for GFFH. "It will help develop a business and sustainable implementation plan, conduct site search and analysis to identify and select an appropriate location for any identified facilities, and support the Food Hub Coordinator position into the implementation phase of the project. It will also help us establish needed partnerships, secure additional funding and creation of a business and long-term sustainability plan."

"The John Merck Fund has been a supporter of other regional food system projects in Vermont and now has recently expanded their funding of local food projects throughout New England," Denise Mason said in a recent statement. Mason is the Director of Economic Development of SEVCA.

"In conversations with them, I know they have funded other food system projects in Vermont and are looking to extend funding across northern New England for similar efforts," Mailler added. "I also know that the two-state, four-county approach really appealed to them." Looking forward and with the creation of this facility, the GFFH will look to provide these food products to various regional locations such as hospitals, schools, homes for the elderly, co-ops, restaurants and retail outlets.

In additional news, GFFH also recently announced they will be working with John Ryan, who will conduct feasibility studies for the project. Ryan is a consultant with Development Cycles and specializes in food system infrastructure and business planning and development. "We are excited to have a consultant with John's background and expertise," Mailer said. "We feel that he will greatly help us move towards our goal of making locally-produced foods available and affordable in southern Vermont and New Hampshire. While also providing a fair return to farmers."

Ryan's studies will include identifying farmers and other producers who could benefir from the Food Hub's project, conducting a survey to identify needs, barriers and the assistance needed to overcome those barriers and determining ways that collaborators can both contribute and benefit from a commercial processing facility.