JACKSON- With Mississippi a leader in agriculture production many would think that getting farm to table food wouldn’t be a problem. However, Jackson restaurant owner Jeff Good said it’s much harder than you think.
“For a restaurant to buy local produce it is a one to one relationship with the farmer. The farmer finds you or you find the farmer and you make arrangements for delivery and the farmers are able to deliver on an infrequent basis,” said Good. “The poor farmer is responsible for picking, putting it in the truck, and getting it to you.”
Which creates a problem when you get to your favorite breakfast spot, order a fruit cup, and the owner then tells you that they don’t have the fruit cause the farmer isn’t there yet.
So how do we fix it?
About four years ago Good said he was approached by David Watkins Jr. who was attempting a revitalization project on Farrish Street, that didn’t pan out. They began talking about ideas for restaurants and local produce.
Through more talks, Good and Watkins along with other entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and chefs came together to create Soul City Hospitality. The mission of Soul City Hospitality was to develop and support businesses that help Mississippi have a sustainable local food system.
“We are an incredibly successful agricultural state,” said Good. “We grow $7.6 billion dollars in agricultural output every year.”
The first business to come out of Soul City Hospitality was Up in Farms Food Hub.
With high hopes, that small group created a hub in a historic produce building at the former Farmer’s Market on Woodrow Wilson in Jackson. The facility run by Up in Farms would coordinate production schedules with farmers and link them to local consumers.
“The Up in Farms Food Hub is an initiative to create the connections between farm to table,” said Good.
Up in Farms Food Hub offers producers support and training to deliver high-quality product on time and at a reasonable price. According to their website, the warehouse is equip to wash, grade, pack, cool, and store fresh produce—activities that are prohibitively expensive for many individual farms.