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MARKET-READY, GOOD TO GO

South Boston News
Southern Virginia Food Hub Board member Robin Allen shares locally-sourced treats at the “soft opening” of the food hub and Maker’s Market Thursday in South Hill.
SoVaNow.com / March 13, 2019

After more than four years of planning, the Southern Virginia Food Hub and Maker’s Market is finally ready to make its debut.

“We’re close, really close,” said founder Ann Taylor-Wright during a special event held March 7 in South Hill to show off the facility and share some of the foods that local vendors will be preparing and selling through the market. Taylor-Wright said she expects the food hub to open to the public in May.

For the first time, farmers, bakers and cooks in Southside Virginia will have access to a health department-inspected kitchen and dairy processing facility for food preparation and a retail grocery to market their products, all at one location.

In addition to locally-prepared foods and Virginia’s Finest items, customers will be able to purchase fresh produce, ready-to-eat meals, and enjoy coffee and homemade breads and pastries at the on-site coffee shop.

Gregory Family Farms of Halifax County is just one of more than 100 vendors whose products will be available at the Maker’s Market, located at 100 West Danville Street in South Hill. They offer beef, lamb and pork. Maggy Gregory was sharing her recipe for lamb meatballs with guests at the Food Hub event and receiving rave reviews.

Taylor-Wright said the main objectives of the food hub are to increase consumption of local foods by members of the local community, increase profits for local small farmers, assist new food businesses in becoming viable operations, benefit low-income communities through education and acceptance of SNAP benefits, and partnering with local schools to promote healthy, locally-sourced eating habits and agriculture education among students.

The Southern Virginia Food Hub and Maker’s Market is a non-profit organization that will also provide funding assistance with recipe testing and label approval and classes on basic food business management, marketing and advertising to local farmers. It is the first time any organization in Southside Virginia has provided a full-service link connecting area farmers to local businesses and customers.

When it opens to the public in May the Southern Virginia Food Hub and Makers Market will join about 20 other food hubs the USDA has identified in southern states such as South Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Farmers and food producers from Brunswick, Charlotte, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Nottoway counties will have access to the market.

Taylor-Wright sees this venture making an economic impact on Southside Virginia by keeping local small to mid-sized farmers profitable and competitive.

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