Living Democracy

Food hub offers healthy connections

Dr. Koe (right) at the Food HubDr. Frannie Koe, a family physician in Collinsville loves to share her a passion for organic farming and sustainability. In fact, she loves it so much she devoted space in her medical clinic to offer tomatoes, cucumbers and more on Tuesday afternoons.

Dr. Koe lives on a 76-acre farm right outside of town where she enjoys a minimalist lifestyle and lives electrically off the grid. One of her goals is to use her knowledge of health, nutrition and agriculture to influence other people to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. 

At Agroshare.com, Koe blogs about various things related to health and farming. In December of 2016, she had the idea to start a food hub in Collinsville.  The definition of a food hub on agroshare.com is: “A business or organization that actively manages the bringing together, distribution and marketing of food products from local regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy demand.”

Describing the hub, Koe said, “It’s like a farmers’ market except we match local organic and sustainable farmers with families who want to buy local produce in the community.” 

The hub is now providing that match. Local farmers bring their produce to Wills Valley Family Medicine in Collinsville on Tuesday afternoons at 3 p.m. 

Collinsville citizens enjoying the food hubKoe said, “It’s much easier than a conventional farmers market. We post online what produce we will have. If customers want it, they can place and order and and come pick it up on Tuesday.”  The farmers bring what produce is ordered and more in case there are walk in customers looking for local fruits and vegetables. They stay and sell until 5 p.m. unless they sell out before then.”

One of the dedicated farmers who brings produce every Tuesday is Dove Stackhouse from Whirlwind Farm. She and her husband, Russel Stackhouse, run a 15-acre sustainable and organic farm on Sand Mountain in Dekalb County. 

Stackhouse said, “I’ve been bringing stuff to the food hub since March. But we've been farming and selling for 16 years.”

Stackhouse typically sells at farmers’ markets in cities all around northeast Alabama, including Huntsville. 

He said, “I really wanted to try out selling to the local community. The response has been great. The locals have been devoted and really supportive of the food hub.”

Fresh produce at the food hubKoe and Stackhouse agree that the community appreciates the food hub. Koe said, “We sell out of everything almost every week.” Stackhouse added, “Normally I can’t get everything laid out on the tables before people are coming through the door and getting what they want.”

At Wills Valley Family Medicine, the food hub is held in a room with coaches, tables and chairs. Every Tuesday, the furniture is loaded down with hand-picked local and organic produce. 

Stackhouse said, “There is a huge difference in fresh vegetables compared to the commercial grocery store version. Ours have more flavor and are ripe when we pick them, which means they have more health benefits.”

Stackhouse runs the website for their farm, called whirlwindfarm.net. There, people can order produce to be picked up at the food hub, as well as learn more about Whirlwind Farm, the Stackhouse’s philosophy and story. Occasionally, they will post recipes that use the produce they're selling. 

Cutting into the produceKoe, Stackhouse and all other providers hope to see the hub continue to grow as a great place for local farmers to sell fresh and organic produce. 

Koe said, “We have six to ten farmers and usually around six to ten families participating. It has worked out well so far. I hope it progresses and grows.”

Pick up time for the food hub is 3-5 p.m. every Tuesday at Wills Valley Family Medicine on 52 South Valley Ave. in Collinsville.

Last Updated: July 18, 2017