What is a food hub and will it work in S.D.?

Food hubs are a relatively new concept in the realm of local foods. They are a step in the local foods system that allows producers to aggregate and distribute their products on a more regional level, and to market products to bigger venues such as restaurants and institutions via a food hub manager, explained Kari O’Neill, SDSU Extension Community Development Field Specialist.

O’Neill said that there has been interest in South Dakota to learn more about regional food hubs, and to explore the possibility of developing such a concept in the state. To address this interest, SDSU Extension, Dakota Rural Action, and the South Dakota Specialty Crop Producers have put together a video conferencing series that will provide more information to the public.

Food hub information series begins March 13

The 2-part series will be held on March 13 and March 27 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. CST at various locations throughout the state. The topic of the first session will be: “Clarifying the Regional Food Hub Concept,” and will define what a regional food hub is, the services and activities they offer, and the market possibilities. The second session will focus on “Economic Viability of Regional Food Hubs,” and will focus on the business aspects, available funding, and standards for products.

Marty Spence, manager of the “Stewards of the Land” food hub in rural Illinois will be a presenter on the video conference.

“Marty’s experience in starting two food hubs and managing one for seven years will be helpful as we sort out possibilities for South Dakota. His facilitation style and practical farm background will keep listeners’ attention throughout the series,” O’Neill said.

Economic developers, entrepreneurs, local food producers, and the general public are invited to attend this series at a site closest to them. Facilitators will be present to lead discussions at each site, with the option of site groups continuing to meet for further discussion following the conference.

SDSU Extension Regional Centers will host video series

The video series will be shown at the following SDSU Extension Regional Center sites: Sioux Falls (2001 E 8th St); Mitchell (1800 E Spruce); Watertown (1910 W Kemp Ave); Aberdeen ( 13 2nd Ave SE); and Pierre (412 W Missouri). The conference will also be hosted in Rapid City at the West River Ag Center (1905 N Plaza Blvd); in Kyle (1 Lakota Trade Center #201); Mission at Sinte Gleska University(101 Antelope Lake Circle); and Vermillion, Old Main 101 on University of South Dakota’s campus and Brookings, Pugsley Hall, SDSU Room 205 on South Dakota State University’s campus.

Please register for the conference by calling Kari O’Neill at 605-685-6972, or emailing at A head count is necessary to be sure each site will have a facilitator and materials. For more information, go to F

–SDSU Extension