Local farmers hope to make products more accessible
Buying locally-grown foods can sometimes be inconvenient, going from one store or produce stand to another. So, farmers in Madison County want to make their products as accessible as possible. Our Cara Thomas spoke with one of them who says the way to do that is to create a food hub.
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CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- This bare skeleton of brick and metal was once a factory.
“We’ve always heard of the Watson Wagon it was one of the original manufacturing companies in this area," said Paul O’Mara, a food hub organizer.
With more than 100 years of manufacturing history on that property, it first belonged to Watson Wagon, a company that built horse drawn wagons. Over time, other companies came and went. One built buses, another created motor homes.
"Unfortunately back in the 90s there was a fire. Most of the buildings were torn down," said O’Mara.
Except for one.
"There's a frame, a structure left from where they built the motor homes. And that's where we're going to renovate," said O’Mara.
But this time, the old factory won't be used for manufacturing of wagons or any sort of automobile. Instead, it's going to be used to process local food.
The original idea began years ago when a group of six local farmers decided they wanted to form a local meat processing facility.
"All of the animals in New York now, on a commercial scale go out of state to be processed. The closest processing plants are in Pennsylvania," said O’Mara.
The idea has continued to grow, from just a meat processing facility to a food hub. A place where dairy, fruits and vegetables, meat and other products can be processed, packaged, and sold.
"To try and explain the concept, we relate to a shopping mall," said O’Mara.
And farmers say this old factory is the perfect place to build the food hub. There will be store fronts for different co-ops, daily farmers markets, and even a commercial kitchen where people can learn to cook with the local products.
"It'll be a really nice asset to the community when it's done. And then on the other side being able to help farmers get their products to the consumer without having to go through the commodity market to do it," said O’Mara.
Construction is still a ways away, as these farmers are still in the process of purchasing the property. But with the help of village, county, and even state officials they say they're definitely moving in the right direction.