Food Hub Development

Group harvesting produce

Food Hub Development

Based on the proven success of Spain’s Mondragon Worker-Owner Cooperative Corporation, the mission of Our Harvest Cooperative Food Hub is to develop systems to train and support growers and to develop cooperative owned and operated incubator training farms as well as contracted farms, and to operate a food hub center for aggregation, processing, marketing, sales, and distribution of local food products.

This project was created to determine if the Our Harvest Cooperative, Inc. Food Hub (OHCI) concept is a viable business model to create good, green jobs, improve the region’s access to local food, and increase the viability of local food systems with sustainable farming and to develop systems to provide training and employment opportunities for members of the community and to develop businesses to address the issues of food security.

Collaborators:

  • Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative
  • —Mondragon USA
  • —United Food and Commercial Workers
  • Ohio Cooperative Development Center
  • —OSU Extension
  • —Ohio Employee Ownership Center

Project Objectives

Utilize a hybrid worker-union food production and distribution cooperative with an incubator farm and marketing program:

To create quality, green, union jobs with good wages, healthcare, pensions, and employee investment, prioritizing the employment of members of historically disadvantaged Cincinnati communities.

To improve our local food system by:

  • Marketing and promoting the most sustainable, scientifically-based, fair-trade growing practices and farm worker treatment feasible.
  • Creating better opportunities and stability for current local farmers through an efficient, market-competitive distribution hub.
  • Cultivating new growers on the incubator farm and through the apprenticeship program.
  • Providing a cooperative-type banking institution for financial support to improve and expand local food cooperatives with an emphasis on underserved farming groups.

To improve healthy food access and enhance Cincinnati’s reputation as a leading green, healthy city by creating a city in which fresh, healthy local food is more readily available to all communities.

To enable the food industry retailers and core institutions that provide food services (i.e. restaurants, hospitals, and universities) to capitalize on the local food revolution and provide them with the opportunity  of  supporting “green” agricultural practices and creating local jobs.

To strengthen the Mondragon co-ops by helping them enter the U.S. market by distributing and marketing their products and to position the Greater Cincinnati Area as a national leader for union-coop innovation.

Food Hub Working Group

This State-Wide Food Hub Development Network project is an effort of the OSU Extension in the City's Employment and Economy Program and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center. We have identified that local communities want to significantly produce, process, and market more locally grown healthy, fresh food for their schools and community residents.

The OSU Extension in the City Program will assist growers and local food-related value-chain business start-ups and expansions so that they are able to have major impact on urban/regional areas of employment and their economies, ultimately serving as program models for replication in other communities. We believe a state-wide networking group would greatly help support this targeted initiative by:

  • Developing an on-going formal functioning state-wide supported food hub network committee
  • Supporting planning and business management of local urban/regional food hub executive boards through local Extension Educators and other community technical assistance agencies
  • Providing and brokering technical and system/template development services
  • Providing state and national networking opportunities and options

Project Contacts

Tom Snyder, Partnership Program Manager
Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OH/WV
Email Tom

Christie Welch, Program Manager
Ohio Cooperative Development Center
Email Christie