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Durham food hub connects local farmers to local consumers

A Durham group says there's a gap between local farmers and the people who want their produce.

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DURHAM, N.C. — With the rise in farm-to-table restaurants and produce delivery services, demand is growing for local food.

A Durham group says there's a gap between local farmers and the people who want their produce.

​The group Farmer Foodshare delivers cases of locally grown food, such as collard greens, from a food hub called bull City Cool in Durham to public schools around the city. Without the hub, those students might not otherwise have access to fresh, local food.

"We're trying to work with Durham farmers and producers and then trying to connect them with buyers in the community," said Bull City Cool's Manager Neal Curran.

Bull City Cool is a food hub, shared cold and dry storage warehouse for locally-grown food.

Some are using it as a space to grow their business. Others, such as the non-profit Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, use it to distribute food to the needy.

"If you want people to eat, somebody has to grow it," said Peter Skillern. "It needs to be our small farmers in Durham County."

Skillern is executive director of Reinvestment Partners, the nonprofit group that started Bull City Cool last year. He says it's meeting the demand for food and creating economic opportunities for Durham's local farmers.

"Our food hub is also a business incubator, as we help to provide new markets and the infrastructure to help those businesses grow," Skillern said.

Curran says it's a success so far, with all of the space rented and organizations growing. He says Bull City Cool can be the key to a local food revolution in Durham.

"Our goal at the end of the day is to have more people being fed and more farmers being successful," Curran said.

Bull City Cool also stores produce from a community garden across the street.

It should produce more than 500 pounds of fresh food this year to donate through the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.


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