This project is a component of the Southeast Foodshed Planning Initiative (SEFPI). In June 2011, at a listening session in Rochester about the potential of a regional food system working group that was facilitated by Megan O'Hara for Olmsted County SHIP and the SE 9-County SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program) cluster, Erin Meier (UM SE RSDP) and Jane Olive (then Dodge County Commissioner) began discussing how Dodge County might fit into a regional picture of food aggregation and distribution.
Commissioner Olive moved the idea through the Dodge County Board and the Dodge Economic Development Authority (EDA). Dodge EDA staff (CEDA Associate Chris Giesen at the time) developed an outline for a feasibility study and secured a $5000 AgStar grant that then was matched by the Dodge EDA.
The group then had some fits and starts to identify the right consultant.
In Dec 2012, Dodge EDA contracted with Jan Joannides of Renewing the Countryside to perform the feasibility study, with a small additional match from the UM SE RSDP. Jan brought in UM Applied Economics students to assist with data collection and analysis.
Dodge County EDA
Dodge County Board
UM Applied Economics students
Primary and secondary research was conducted as part of this study. Methods included surveys, interviews, and a review of previous research. Below is a detailed work plan.
Objective 1. Identify interest level of area farmers in selling beyond their current markets and identify types and quantity of products they could supply for new markets.
Task 1: Identify farmers growing the types of crops that could supply the local food system.
Task 2: Conduct a survey with farmers in Dodge County and adjacent counties to assess their interest in selling beyond their current markets.
Task 2: Analyze survey and develop a report on the findings.
Objective 2. Identify potential buyers for local foods and understand what foods they buy, in what quantities, at what times of year, at what price, and other requirements (GAP, HACCP, liability).
Task 1: Identify up to 50 potential wholesale buyers (retail, food service, schools, distributors).
Task 2: Interview 20 to 30 buyers of local foods to understand their interest and requirements in sourcing from local growers.
Task 2: Analyze survey data and develop a report.
Objective 3. Identify current food hubs in or near the region and explore how they could integrate with or how they would compete with a new entity.
Task 1: Identify food hubs in the region or that service the region.
Task 2: Interview food hub managers to glean their perspectives of how a new food hub would interact or compete with their business.
Task 3: Develop a report of findings.
Objective 4. Explore other food hub models from across the country and identify those that are both profitable and would have best practices that would pertain to a food hub in Dodge County.
Task 1: Review the research on food hubs and pull information that would be beneficial to starting a food hub in Dodge County.
Task 2: If not in the research, interview successful food hub managers to understand best practices.
Task 3: Develop a report on findings.
The Dodge County Food Hub Feasibility Study was published in August 2013. It compiles detailed research regarding Dodge County food aggregation and distribution opportunities.
$5000 AgStar grant
$5000 match by Dodge County EDA