Sunsetting The Hub on the Hill
Our roots began in 2015, when The Hub on the Hill was founded to support a burgeoning small farm movement and its leaders in navigating and clarifying the needs of our community. Over the course of its seven years, it offered a broad range of support at nearly every point along the food value chain, including: (1) aggregation and distribution, including last-mile delivery to consumers, restaurants, grocers, and institutions; (2) a commercial kitchen for rent and co-packing service; (3) affordable rental of dry, cold, and frozen storage; and (4) brick & mortar and online marketplaces offering locally produced food. The groundwork laid fully established the integral role a food hub can and should play in our region.
In 2021, The Hub on the Hill founders decided to sunset their startup. They were certain, of course, that a food hub should continue to exist, and they expressed a desire for the next food hub to be community held and board-led as a 501c3 to achieve greater financial and organizational sustainability.
Essex Food Hub & Its Early Success
Essex Food Hub, Inc., is a 501c3 nonprofit food hub established to succeed The Hub on the Hill and ensure that a vital resource continues to exist for our community.
Since our founding in 2022, EFH has been incredibly successful in assuming operations, continuing to make a big impact on our rural community and beyond. Just since April of 2023 when we began direct-to-consumer and resale operations, we have:
- Put more than $ 268,000 in the pockets of North Country farmers;
- Moved more than $80,000 worth of food to as many as 575 New York households in need through our mutual aid partnerships;
- Aggregated, distributed, and sometimes minimally process 34,000 pounds of food to nearly 6,000 students receiving free lunch across the North Country;
- Run six delivery routes across the Adirondacks, down to the Capital Region and the Hudson Valley, and throughout New York City, as a distributor and as a delivery service for small-scale farmers and value-added food producers, traveling long miles to get food to towns that even Sysco won't serve;
- Employed between seven and 12 (fluctuates seasonally) individuals year round; and
- Provided permanent production space for four well-established, value-added food producers in our region, in addition to commissary kitchen space and co-packing services.
Aside from continuing operations, EFH has also focused on growing, especially our Farm to Institution work. As part of this growth, EFH has already:
- Become a distributor for Tangleroot Farm, North Country Creamery, Crown Point Farm and Dairy, and YesFolk Tonics, in addition to continuing to provide logistical and delivery support for nine producers. Conversations to soon onboard four additional distribution partners are underway.
- Helped 50 regional institutions access local foods (not including schools) through our growing wholesale ordering, aggregation, and distribution services.
- Submitted a successful bid to double the scale of our Farm to School work this academic year, in which we will supply an estimated 54,000 pounds of foods from every major food group to Champlain Valley BOCES schools serving free lunch to approximately 14,000 students.
- Made important connections between local producers and community partners, including facilitating the distribution of 900lbs of donated beef from Rolling Hills Farm to Essex County Women, Infants, Children.
- Participated in the formalization of a statewide network of food hubs to build resilience in our food system and create collective efficiency and opportunity by working together.
By investing in this new direction, EFH is increasing its support to local producers, making it easier for institutions to access local foods, and increasing access to local foods in our communities more broadly. On top of this, we have just been awarded more than $730,000 by the New York Food for New York Families program for a project designed to create new markets producing an annual half million dollars in revenue for farmers annually. The future is full of opportunity for our food community if we ensure EFH can get through the final stages of the transition!
Essex Food Hub has been operating with borrowed Hub on The Hill assets in a facility it must now return to Hub founders. For the past year and a half, we've been working hard to raise the necessary funds to remain in operation, cover the costs associated with doing business as a brand new nonprofit, and acquire all assets from The Hub on the Hill and elsewhere needed to expand this work.
The good news is that, to date, we have raised more than $1.25 million from numerous sources, including the following, without whom we would not be here today:
- Adirondack Foundation, including the Bill and Lisa Powers Family Fund, Sudden and Urgent Needs Fund and Generous Acts
- Charles R. Wood Foundation
- Cloudsplitter Foundation
- Essex Community Fund
- JM McDonald Foundation
- New York Health Foundation
- New York Food for New York Families program, funded through the USDA
- Pearsall Adirondack Foundation
- Patrick Leahy Farm to School grant program, funded through the USDA
- Numerous individual community donors
However, much of this funding contributes to our programmatic needs, meaning we still have a significant remaining need to complete our purchase of equipment and settle into our new home.
How YOU Can Help
We know EFH can continue to support local food systems and local producers, tackle food insecurity, and provide dynamic solutions for building our rural economy and addressing climate change. A food hub is an incredibly vital resource and we want to keep one here to serve our community!
Since launching our fundraising goal, we have come to terms with the reality that purchasing our current facilities for $545,000 is simply not feasible- or a sustainable investment for us. To that end, we have identified a new location we are working on finalizing leasing terms with, which greatly reduces our overall transition costs. With the funds we’ve already raised, we've met just under 50% of our need.
You can help keep Essex Food Hub in our community by closing the $526,334 gap between our first two years’ startup costs and funds raised!
Moving costs & leasehold improvements to new commercial space
|Marketing & Technology
|Inventory / Equipment
|Organizational Management & Development
What Your Help Will Make Possible
Above all, your help to close this gap will keep Essex Food Hub in our community.
In the immediate, your support will help us do the following:
- Complete our organizational transition
- Strengthen EFH organizational structure & readiness
- Continue to invest in operational growth
Most important for us will be finalizing the transition to the new 501c3 organization, which includes purchasing operating assets and relocating to a facility that we can financially sustain. Overall, the next period at a glance will look like this:
We are all excited for the future of Essex Food Hub and the opportunities it presents for our community. With your help, we can ensure that a food hub continues to exist for our region. Please donate what you can and share widely within the community!
All gifts to Essex Food Hub, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit registered organization, are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.