Food Hub Surveys
As part of the planning stage, NCG gathered data about interest in and need for a Food Hub in
Western Nevada County. We also held two separate focus group meetings: one for farmers and ranchers and one for restaurants and caterers. Based on this research we concluded that there is strong interest in a Food Hub.
31 Producers (farmers/ranchers) took the survey, which is a good response rate for our small rural area. Respondents ranged from small to large businesses, fairly new to decades-old farms. Thus we reached a good cross-section of Producers.
The 19-question survey covered information such as acreage, crops, years in business, etc. Following are two key questions that were designed to measure Producer interest in a Food Hub.
- Would you use the Hub to sell some or all of your products?
Yes – 67% Maybe – 15% No – 18%
- Are you willing to increase production?
Yes – 73% Maybe – 20% No – 7%
We had a very productive Focus Group meeting and ALL of the participating farmers said they would like to participate in a limited launch of the food hub during summer 2016.
Restaurant & Caterer Response
We hired a consultant who is well connected with the local restaurants and caterers. She contacted them by phone, email and in person, requesting their participation in the survey.
31 Restaurants and Caterers responded, ranging from small to large business and from fairly new to well-established. Thus we reached a good cross-section in this category. The survey covered information such as size of business, years in business, etc. The following specific questions were designed to measure their interest in and likely use of a Food Hub.
- Do you think there is a customer demand for locally sourced food?
Yes – 97% No – 3%
- Would you use local foods in seasonal specials?
Yes – 97% No – 3%
- Can you use imperfect produce for some menu items?
Yes – 90% No – 10%
- Would the food hub that we describe encourage you to purchase more food from local farms/ranches?
Yes – 79% Maybe – 21% No – 0%
We had a good Focus Group meeting and shared a lot of information plus “wish list” ideas on both sides. Many of the attendees would like to participate in a limited launch of the food hub during summer 2016.
We limited our grocery store research at this time to smaller local stores since the food hub will not initially be able to provide the volume required by the large chain grocery stores. We hired a pair of consultants to personally interview the owners of 6 local markets. Results: These grocers are interested in carrying locally sourced food and some are already purchasing one-on-one from some local producers.
Hospitals and Nursing Homes
Our research shows that hospitals have very tight restrictions on food sources. We are putting them on the back burner until the food hub is fully operational and has an established history.
We are talking to Sierra Harvest and school personnel about increasing sales of locally sourced foods in our local schools. Sierra Harvest has some school programs in place, thus it is logical for us to work together. There is interest in locally grown food in the schools and we will be working more on this when the food hub is fully operational.