A grand experiment: 2010 to 2015 healthy food hub development

Northwestern Nevada – In 2010, Marcia and Steve Litsinger taught a series of organic practices workshops. The first was on a cold morning in Dayton, Nevada, but people were eager to learn and ignored the chill. It was the beginning of a grand experiment in multi-sector collaboration that has had tremendous results.

Click on the photo below to see a press release from that first workshop in winter of 2010. That’s when volunteers, farmers, and diverse groups began forming a strategy to work together across the region to improve  access to and demand for locally and sustainably grown, healthy, and affordable food.

In only 5 short years, rapid progress has been made in the Lyon region by using a collective impact strategy in which many individuals and groups work together on a common set of goals. Below are just a few of the successes:

8 school gardens and hoop houses; several more community gardens and hoop houses; cooking, canning, gardening and healthy eating classes; a food co-op, buyers’ club, and community supported agriculture (CSA) Basket Club featuring local produce; more farmers markets that accept SNAP; 2  volunteer-powered food pantries where volunteers can get hands-on job and leadership training and gardening skills; teen garden internships; Community Roots nonprofit gardening center which also serves as a job training and vocational rehabilitation spot; implementation of Farm to School strategies that increase local farm produce in school lunches and in Boys and Girls Club snacks; a Cottage Food law and a “Pickles and Salsa” law that has created hundreds of new food micro-enterprises across the state; trained community health advocates offering education in diabetes self-mangement and much more. For a short video showing some of the elements of this Healthy Food Hub, see https://youtu.be/yr-D7xRwSTs

USDA Definition of a Healthy Food Hub: Together, these elements form a “healthy” food hub, an alternative type of food hub that the USDA recognizes and describes as “consisting of a variety of fully integrated businesses, social services and safe public spaces that support each other in ways that leverage profitability and long-term sustainability in innovative ways.”

This “healthy” food hub may include not only a “central food provider” such as a co-op or grocery, but also value-added food production and elements such as community garden and micro-enterprise agriculture project planning; gardening, wellness and agriculture education K-12; healthy cooking and eating classes and demonstrations; safe public gathering spaces; accessible health care; community fitness opportunities; etc.

Contact: If you’d like to know more about the “Healthy Food Hub” in the Lyon region, contact Healthy Communities director Christy McGill at 246-7550.