Springing up this month in the Ocala-Gainesville area is Florida Grub Hub, a service that will provide local produce from farms in the area directly to consumers in the community
The service, which officially began operating in March, was founded by Laura McCormick, Audrey Hamburger and John Pilgrim. Their ideal consumers are everyone from local restaurants to the average consumer who wants fresh, local food to cook at home. At the most basic level, Florida Grub Hub serves to better match food producers with consumers. This means acting as a middle man, providing product distribution for producers and easy accessibility for consumers.
“We currently have about 50 farm partners from around the state, but that’s just scratching the surface,” said McCormick.
The current existing system is one where farmers are responsible for bringing the products directly to consumers, weather it be through farmers’ markets or membership in an established Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
“The problem with that is that it takes time, resources, energy, personnel… and all the money that they spend creating and maintaining those relationships and distributing that product, they could be producing more food,” said McCormick. “We are trying to eliminate that inefficiency in the distribution so farmers can increase production.”
This revolutionary new organization will still face plenty of competition from mainstream easily accessible grocery store chains. The difference is that the food Florida Grub Hub offers is certifiably healthy every single time. It is then up to consumers to realize the importance of knowing where their food is coming from and the need to support local agriculture.
“Think about this: You have certified-organic stamped blueberries, they come off the truck from Global Organics and they’re from Mexico. Well they might be certified-organic stamped but I have no idea how those blueberries were grown, I’ve never been on that farm, I’ve never met that farmer, I have no idea when those blueberries were picked, how long they’ve been stored, what nutritional value they even have left. They could be six weeks old. We have those products in the store that people are willing to spend money on because it’s stamped organic. Then I have blueberries that I literally got from the farmer down the road, that I meet once a week that I’ve seen which way he grows them and how they are harvested and he picked them yesterday,” McCormick explained.
When Florida Grub Hub is fully up and running, it will list food products on their website based upon what the farm partners in the area have available depending on the season. Members will then be able to go onto the website and order whatever they want.
After ordering, the food is delivered either directly to the consumers or to a nearby drop-off location. For larger and more consistent orders, like those of local restaurants, Florida Grub Hub sees what producers have currently available and what’s coming up for harvest in the future to figure out what restaurants need for their menus. This allows the farms to cater the products they grow to a particular restaurant’s needs. Additionally, there is a storefront in Ocala where customers can come and pick up their produce.
A Closer Look at a Florida Grub Hub Producer: Crone’s Cradle conserve
Located on a 756-acre ecological preserve in Citra, Florida, Crone’s Cradle Conserve is one of Florida Grub Hub’s strongest midsized-farm partners. The farm houses a modest chicken coop, greenhouse and a small storefront. You’ve likely already eaten some of their produce if you’ve dined at The Top or Crane Ramen in downtown Gainesville – two of several local restaurants that currently receive fresh, local produce from Crone’s Cradle. Farms like Crone’s Cradle Conserve will likely still continue to utilize these relationships, but Florida Grub Hub will allow them to greatly expand their consumer base and devote more time to growing products instead of selling products.