Bountiful Cities plans Buncombe County’s first food hub

BREAKING NEW GROUND: Local nonprofit Bountiful Cities has plans to build Buncombe County's first food hub on a 1-acre plot in West Asheville. Sunil Patel, pictured, of Patchwork Urban Farms has been farming the property for four years with the help of Bountiful Cities and will continue its cultivation once the two-level facility is built. Photo courtesy of Bountiful Cities

For about a decade, a growing number of communities across the U.S. have been bolstering their local food systems by creating food hubs — facilities or organizations that provide infrastructure to help small-scale growers reach broader markets. Several months ago, community leaders in McDowell County announced plans for such a facility, and now Asheville has its own food hub on the horizon.

“This will be the first project of its kind in Buncombe County,” says Kellie Adkins, project manager for urban agriculture nonprofit Bountiful Cities’ proposed Falconhurst Community Food Hub. 

Plans are for a two-level, multiuse pavilion to be constructed on a 1-acre tract in West Asheville’s Falconhurst neighborhood, she says. The land was historically farmed by the Broome family and was recently donated to the nonprofit by Asheville resident Robert Wood. The structure, which will be built on the former site of the original farm’s barn, will primarily serve Bountiful Cities’ network of community gardens and local urban farmers and will also host the nonprofit’s planned Urban Farm School. 

The lower level will offer shared cold storage, a root cellar and a produce processing center with a triple-wash sink and packaging area. “Upstairs would be a value-added kitchen for community outreach and educational programs, but community gardeners would also have access to it to process their value-added products,” Adkins explains. “It’s really a hub to encourage and continue the support of agriculture in the Falconhurst community and the broader city of Asheville as well.”

For the past four years, Sunil Patel of Patchwork Urban Farms has grown crops on the property and used a Bountiful Cities facility in Montford for packaging and distribution. “What we want to provide for him and for other urban gardeners in the area is a space and a hub to support their agricultural yield,” says Adkins.

The lot currently lacks road access, and Bountiful Cities is working with the city to find a mutually agreeable solution. As for the hub itself, the nonprofit has secured funding for about a quarter of the low-end estimate of $250,000 that’s needed for construction, Adkins says. It hopes to earn the rest through fundraising efforts, including participation in Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event in September, the FEAST program’s Feasting for FEAST event and the Mountain Xpress GiveLocal! campaign.

The project’s timeline is contingent not only on the road access question but also on city permitting once final plans are submitted. “We would love to be able to say we can break ground in early winter to midwinter — before spring to avoid interfering with the farming activities; that would be ideal,” says Adkins.

For more, visit bountifulcities.org. Send questions to foodhub@bountifulcities.org.

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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