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**UPDATED** Strategic Geography and the 'Food Hub' (still a working title)

Learning from the repeated success of the <a href="http://www.cityofrochester.gov/publicmarket/">Rochester Public Market</a>, I am suggesting developing a program or organization (i.e. Farmers-Market-in-a-Box, similar to http://imaginationplayground.org/) meant to have a direct collaboration with local city governments to build more permanent farmers market structures. These structures would be strategically located between low and middle class neighborhoods, with varying ethnicities, crime and education levels; as opposed to higher income neighborhoods, exclusively serving consumers with disposable incomes. The location should be risk-taking and near key city lines separating disparate social groups. This key geographic decision would promote social integration, dialog between all types of eaters and growers who wouldn't otherwise meet, healthy affordable food that is accessible to a wider range of consumers and it would increase market schedule flexibility encouraging repeat visits.

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For urban communities, access to fresh, high quality produce is difficult to come by. When it is available at farmers markets, it is priced higher then supermarkets. The markets' hours are also typically inconsistent, weather pending and extremely limited to weekends. It can be an unrealistic option for families; especially for parents who work on the weekends.


Collaborating with City Planners & Local Government

Building a stronger farmers market community directly with local government would allow for a strengthened support system to better serve the community. Choosing a strategic location in proximity to moderately troubled neighborhoods could increase government incentive to fund the market with hopes of a positive effect in the surrounding area. A direct collaboration could increase support and access to a wider range of payment options through nutritional assistance programs (SNAP/Foodstamps, EBT and other food vouchers) as well as partnering with already existing, locally funded food education programs. The local police force could be a huge asset when deciding on a permanent location in regards to which higher crime areas have the potential to be lowered in shorter periods of time. And more importantly, governmental collaboration from the beginning could ensure permanence and growth of the farmers market regardless of the consistently of external organizations' involvement and funding.


Strategic Geographic Location to Bridge Social Gaps

Rochester is well known for its' long term economic woes and above average crime rates. The Rochester Public Market is an inspiration for this concept because of its' unique location within the city of Rochester. (Crime Rates) Although the market sits within a relatively safe area, it is surrounded by several documented 'unsafe' neighborhoods. (A cropped image of the crime rate map and satellite image of the market are included with this concept.)

The primary goals for targeting these unique locations are:

• To provide and develop a neutral, positive location to serve a wide range of income and education levels and ethnicities where everyone can feel welcome. Also, to provide consistent, dependable access to fresh, affordable produce, the local rural community and basic nutritional health education. Serving a wider range of the community would hopefully strengthen empathy across disparate social groups.

• To potentially attract surrounding businesses to move into the area and project an overall positive ripple effect to help lower crime rates in neighboring communities.

• Improve the dialog between all types of eaters and rural growers who wouldn't otherwise meet.

• To provide a rare, consistent source of income for the local agricultural community. A permanent structure would also allow for stronger defense against stormy weather and increase customer visits during rain or snow storms.


Learn from Already Existing Success Stories

The public market in Rochester is one of the largest, serving 2.5 million a year and most diverse markets registered through the American Farmland Trust. The market is more than just a weekend activity or hobby for its visitors and vendors; it is their way of life and livelihood. Since 1827 it has been developing into a thriving, diverse community with a wide range of dedicated patrons and vendors. In 2010 the Rochester Public Market was declared to be America's Favorite Farmers Market by a 2400-vote victory in a national challenge organized by the American Farmland Trust. Attached is a quote from one of the contest voters concisely capturing the overall goal of this concept.


Photography courtesy of the Rochester Public Market Flickr page.

Concept builds

DEVELOPED FOOD HUB
• A semi-permanent to permanent structure that is located on the cusp of higher and lower soci-economic areas.
• Possibly built from scratch or utilize adaptive reuse of and existing derelict structures.
• Location would be in close proximity to public transportation and in an area classified as a food desert.
• A solid list of committed vendors should be formed in direct partnership with the Queensland Government and any involved local representatives. The primary goal of this partnership is to negotiate policy amendments that allow Australian farmers to process their own food on their property and garner a profit from their own product. At the moment, there are agricultural policies preventing farmers from vertically aligning their business from production to retail. Their retail space would be subsidized and offered ahead of private entrepreneurs.
• The opening times for the market would be tailored to be both equitable for a farmer and convenient for consumers. Night markets during the week could become convenient for the general work force.

SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE
The developed plan will offer three levels dependent on population and resources:
   
Level 1 &gt;&gt; Minimal components. Active vendors/farmers, permanent structure located on a key borderline, shared office space to manage logistics and administration, compost receptors, placement program for the unemployed to manage daily function of the market, oversee vendor space when needed.
   
Level 2 &gt;&gt; Intermediate components. In addition to Level 1, components could include a shared space for community cooking classes/chef demonstrations to educate consumers about simple/heathy meals, potential art/music performing space for evening markets and nutrition workshops with health professionals. Shared vans could help deliver fresh produce to the surrounding area for people that find it to difficult to access the food hub (disabled, elderly). The vans would also go to key points of activity and set up roving stalls, such and major bus, train and ferry stops. The vans would be employed during peaks times, that is at lunchtime and during the evening after work.
   
Level 3 &gt;&gt; Maximum components. In addition to Level 1 and 2, components could include a commercial kitchen so that bulk meals could be prepared for the whole week and shared. A community garden could be built adjacent to the hub which could help not only people visualize where food comes from, but also could act as a supervised child care facility with a sensory garden. This would allow parents to shop hassle free and teach kids from an early age about fresh food.
 
 
SOCIO-ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT
The unemployed could be trained and given jobs during the building phases. They also could represent the farmers if they couldn't make it to the markets and be responsible for running the food hub. They could also be responsible to for driving the fleet of shared vans and trucks.
 
ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITTEE
A paid CEO or Co-CEOs (1 community rep and 1 farming rep) could be appointed to oversee the staff and volunteer committee that would meet monthly:
   + 1 State Government Rep
   + 1 Local Government Rep
   + 2 Community Reps
   + 2 Farmer Reps.
The CEO would manage a team of 30-50 casual, part-time and full-time employees (through the socio-economic advancement program) who will run the hubs activities and also represent the farmers in the city.

BUDGETARY PLAN
Government would be heavily involved to secure initial funding to build the infrastructure and support funding for approximately 5 years while the enterprise becomes self-sustaining. This goal is meant to encourage the government to be apart of the implementation process. They will help to ensure the project helps reduce unemployment, improve community health and well being and increase local economic development.

What actions would need to be taken to turn this idea into a reality?

OVERALL
• Identify a goal date for each action and monetary cost.
• Build in feedback stages to record what works and what doesn’t from all involved in the process.

PRIMARY PRIORITIES
• Form initial core team via external organizations and local government.
• Narrow list of potential cities within Australia for pilot programs. (Determine 3 if possible. Small, Mid, Large)
• Research and interview phase to determine best plan of action. Utilize government officials, farmers, neighborhoods/citizens of potential cities. (ex City Move Program http://www.svid.se/citymove/ )
• Funding Sources (see a list of potential sources below)
• Determine final/estimated budget post funding.

SECONDARY PRIORITIES
• Generation of local support through low cost PR. (Community Broadcasting Foundation, Below the Line marketing campaign, investor presentations/meetings)
• And appoint a paid CEO or Co-CEOs (1 community rep and 1 farming rep)
• Assemble realization/organization committee &gt;&gt;
   + 1 State Governemnt Rep
   + 1 Local Government Rep
   + 2 Community Reps
   + 2 Farmer Reps.
• Location scouting with local governments to determine ideal environment.
• Simultaneously scout for vendors— generate support and commitment within the farming community through agricultural representatives.
• Source 30-50 employees through placement programs of unemployed or low income groups with limited education. CEO/Committee would manage the process.
• Commence initial building phases. Which would relate directly with size/budget of city. (how many extras would be included with the overall plan etc. )
• Utilize local government support, organizational committee and employees to carry out customized/localized farmer's market.

Who might make a good partner for this project?

EXTERNAL ORGANIZATION
An unbiased planning consultancy to guide government organizations and core team.
• IDEO
• Arup
• GOOD Program ( http://www.good.is/ )

GOVERNMENT BODIES
• Town planning
• Chief Financial Officer/Comptroller
• Dept of Agriculture
• Dept Education/Employment
• Dept of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research,

LIKE-MINDED COLLABORATORS
Similar programs with aligned priorities, specializing in connecting rural and urban communities; In order to avoid reinventing the wheel...(such as building off of the already established City Cousin network Food Connect has in place).
• Food Connect
• Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne
• Saturday Fresh Market in Brisbane
• Federation of Farmers

LIKE-MINDED INFLUENCERS
Gathering support from influential individuals can sway entire communities to back a cause.
• Kerin O’Dea (Australian based health researcher)
• Jamie Oliver (Internationally known for revolutionizing the public's relationship w/ food)
• Michael Pollan (Food Inc. and an American icon for the food movement)
• Robert Pekin (Food Connect)

What suggestions would you have for potential sources of funding for the development of this project?

GOVERNMENT BODIES
The initial funding plan would always include government bodies to keep the mission focused towards the improvement of the community rather than any individual's monetary gain. A budgetary plan could be written with the goal to build a self sustaining organization within 5 years.
• State (Queensland Government)
• Local (Brisbane for example)
• State Run or Private Universities (Southern Cross Univeristy, University of Queensland) Barter financial support for student employment programs and research opportunities.

BOUTIQUE INVESTMENT FIRMS/CONSULTANCIES
Seek private investors who are comfortable partnering with local government and non profit organizations. Preferably based in Australia.
• Amias Berman & Co. ( http://tinyurl.com/3bswg2q )
• Investing for Charity ( http://tinyurl.com/4yq2fjj )

CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS
• The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Global Health & Development focus)
• Jamie Oliver Foundation (Nutritional Health focus)

INFLUENCERS WITHIN THE FOOD MOVEMENT
The influencers could help raise funds as opposed to providing them.
• Michael Pollan or Australian equivalent
• Robert Pekin

HIGH PROFILE RECOGNITION AND GRANTS
Although the grants/competitions would not satisfy the bulk of the budgetary needs, it would spark a huge amount of free PR and support from powerful global communities.
• TED
• Sappi Ideas that Matter Grant

Virtual team

A special thanks to James Mulligan, Mahmud Hossain and Nikola Holmes for their additional collaborative support!

BRISBANE TEAM
James Mulligan
Rose Wright ( http://tinyurl.com/4xzgfej )
Robert Pekin ( http://www.foodconnect.com.au/ )
Paul Fairweather ( http://tinyurl.com/3gfe5an )
Simone Dilkara ( http://tinyurl.com/3bv7bcb )
Mel Kettle ( http://tinyurl.com/ye4h7ed )
Jakob Trischler ( http://tinyurl.com/3gfyd24 )
Silvia Estrada-Flores ( http://tinyurl.com/3atmzt7 )
Gerry Gillespe
Jeff Brunn
Ewan McEoín


OpenIDEATORS
Megan Kierstead ( http://tinyurl.com/3uw5agm )
Anne-Laure Fayard ( http://tinyurl.com/3k6xtk8 )
Anuja Singhal ( http://tinyurl.com/3ljeoqb )
Mahmud Hossain ( http://tinyurl.com/3wbm2np )

LOCAL BOSTON TRANSPLANTS
Samuel Jackson ( http://tinyurl.com/4246xpd )
Jason Ward
Nikola Holmes

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Photo of Fei

Love this concept! I hope it can be implement as soon as possible, I am looking forward to know more informations about that.

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