Food Hubs in the UK: Where are we and what next?

Food Hubs in the UK: Where are we and what next?

Paola Guzman and Christian Reynolds

Food hubs are proliferating. But what exactly are they? What are they for? And why do we need them? This Discussion Paper, based on collaborative work involving local food practitioners and academic researchers, aims to answer some of these questions.

Broadly speaking, food hubs are entities that sit between people who produce food and people who use it, gathering food from growers and distributing it either to commercial customers or directly to consumers. Often, they focus on helping small-scale suppliers find markets, and operate within an explicit ethical framework. They can fill gaps in local food infrastructure, help consumers find locally sourced produce, support new forms of food retail, incubate food enterprises, or create a space for community education and action.

The paper has been written for people who want to understand the role of multifunctional food hubs in the UK, or to determine whether a food hub (or what type of food hub) is appropriate for their locality and purposes. We hope the report will spark debate and provide pointers for people who are already busy in this expanding and energised sector. We also hope it will help policymakers, investors and funders to engage with, and potentially support, the role of food hubs in sustainable food systems.

About the authors

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Paola Guzman

Paola is a PhD student at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University. Her research focuses on the financial and operational performance of box schemes and CSAs in England and Wales. Paola has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and master’s in urban design. For five years Paola worked at Sustain in the Capital Growth project which supported Londoners to create over 2,000 food-growing community gardens in London. Paola co-owned and worked at Calabaza Growers for three years, a small-scale horticultural business in the edge of London that supplied vegetables to box schemes in London. Paola is fluent in Spanish and English.

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Christian Reynolds

Christian Reynolds is a Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow (N8 AgriFood project) at the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, and an adjunct Research Fellow at the Barbara Hardy Institute for Sustainable Environments and Technologies, University of South Australia. Christian’s research examines the economic and environmental impacts of food consumption; with focus upon sustainable, healthy and affordable diets; and, food waste.

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