The Clean Food Network

Project Overview

CS06-051
Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2006: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Dove Stackhouse
ASAN (Alabama Sustainable Agricultural Network)

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, rye, sunflower, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: melons, berries (other), figs, grapes, peaches, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: tobacco, herbs
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, swine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, animal protection and health, feed formulation, free-range, herbal medicines, manure management, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, preventive practices, range improvement, grazing - rotational, watering systems
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, hedges - grass, habitat enhancement, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, hedges - woody
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, compost extracts, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mating disruption, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention, row covers (for pests), trap crops, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management, permaculture
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures

    Abstract:

    The Clean Food Network was created to meet the marketing needs of the areas sustainable farms, as there weren't any reliable markets in the Huntsville/Madison area. The community also needed access to sustainable farms and their products. We pooled our resources and started an on line ordering system with weekly local deliveries. This creates a wider customer base for the farmers and a wider variety of products for the community to choose from and have it delivered fresh once a week to local pick up points in the area. Beginning farmers have a way into the market, there is no waste as farmers only harvest what has been sold. It is convenient to farmers and to the community.

    Introduction

    In the Huntsville/Madison area of Alabama in 2006 there was only one farmers market, with a few conventional growers but 2 big store front wholesale resellers. Sustainable farmers couldn't compete with the cheap food. So most farms sold from their farms or went to other producer only farmers markets located at least 60 mi. away from the farm. The only access the community had to these sustainable farms producing clean healthy food was by word of mouth and going from farm to farm to get what they wanted.
    We banded together and created the Clean Food Network LLC a farmer owned network. We operate a on line ordering system. Customers order on line what they want, the orders are filled and delivered to area pick up points.

    Project objectives:

    1. Create a farmer-owned cooperative, The Clean Food Network, Inc., in north Alabama and Tennessee to serve as a local marketing outlet for sustainably-grown fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and processed foods. This network will work to increase sales for farmers in the area, expand markets for a longer part of the season, and improve community access to local food.

    2. Increase the number of participating farms, including transitioning and beginning farms. As the network increases its sales, new farmers can ease into production with less concern about production highs and lows, and farmers interested in transitioning to more sustainable methods will have an outlet for their new products.

    3. Create an outlet for value-added businesses such as food processors and bakers. The network will encourage production of value-added products, from processed meats to jams and jellies to honey to frozen vegetables. The cooperative will be able to provide a broader selection to its customers, storable products can be sold over a longer period of time, and surplus can be transformed into higher-value products.

    4. Streamline distribution to lower-income communities. While this is not an automatic result of the creation of the network, the group will make a concerted effort to ensure that their products are accessible to lower-income community members.

    5. Educate youth on farm opportunities and business options. Whether the youth involved in the network remain in agriculture or not, future entrepreneurs can learn from the efforts of the cooperative.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.