Food Hub Initiative
The Holyoke Food and Agriculture Innovation Center (HFAIC) will serve as a food hub for the city of Holyoke; a center of food production, innovation, and education.
HFAIC will support the needs of urban agriculture producers and consumers, offer nutrition education programs, and become an engine of economic development. Holyoke has a uniquely strong food and agriculture heritage, particularly within the Puerto Rican community that makes up approximately 50% of the city’s population. Nuestras Raíces’ urban farmers are leaders in producing many of the Caribbean specialty crops that are unavailable elsewhere. The following components will contribute to Holyoke’s growth as a Food Hub/FAIC
Locally-Grown Food Processing Center
HFAIC will welcome low-income urban farmers from Holyoke as well as other area farmers to process their produce and sell in bulk under a unified label. Small business food producers will use the Center’s public health certified industrial kitchen space and will receive technical support for marketing and sales. HFAIC will provide local community food entrepreneurs with access to an industrial kitchen and storage space. There are many low-income food entrepreneurs in Holyoke who already make value-added products, including sofrito (a cooked blend of spices for Puerto Rican food), smoothies, and sandwiches to sell among friends. HFAIC will enable them to prepare their products legally, cook in bulk, and receive marketing support for launching businesses. Local and regional industrial buyers of bulk food will have the opportunity to purchase locally grown food through the HFAIC.
HFAIC will promote Latino culture through culinary classes, cultural programming, and nutrition courses based at the HFAIC. Food education programs will focus on nutrition and diet in partnership with the Holyoke Health Center, while celebrating food culture and advancing a local food agenda. These opportunities and projects will receive feedback from the community through focus groups held at Holyoke Health Center and larger community events.
HFAIC will bring economic benefit to low-income, unemployed and underemployed residents of Holyoke in addition to regional farmers and food entrepreneurs. HFAIC will offer job training, business incubation, farmer support, and will contribute to the cultural richness and food traditions that already make Holyoke a unique food destination. As HFAIC grows in capacity for processing large quantities of food, it will be able to directly employ Holyoke residents. The HFAIC will increase Holyoke’s contributions to food entrepreneurship and farm fresh food processing, eroding the barriers that separate the city from surrounding rural areas. HFAIC will facilitate the growth of new Latino food companies and enable a broader distribution of new products across the Pioneer Valley and beyond.
William J. Dean Technical High School, Holyoke, MA
Holyoke Community College
Holyoke Health Center
Local Food, Local Places Program (U.S. E.P.A.)
Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (Innovations Grant)
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