March 9, 2021

Astoria producers seek community investment in ‘food hub’

An Astoria group is seeking public financing to turn a 27,000-square-foot riverfront building into a marketplace for area producers.

Proponents of the planned Astoria Food Hub are looking for small investors — 1,000 people willing to provide $1,000 — to pay for the purchase and renovation of a 1930s-era building in the city’s Riverwalk District to transform into a market and distribution center for area farmers, fishing operators and other producers, according to an announcement.

“Once renovated, the space will serve as a nexus for coastal farmers, fishers, and food producers, providing access to onsite cold storage, a commercial kitchen, distribution facilities, sales & marketing, and technical assistance,” the group said.

To raise the money, planners are forgoing tradition bank lending and instead financing the project through Steward, a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals to buy into loans as investment opportunities. According to Steward’s page for the Astoria project, $308,000 has been raised toward a $700,000 goal for its building purchase.

“This allows Astoria Food Hub to bypass traditional bank financing and creates an opportunity for the community to participate in the loan — with as little as $100,” the group said. “We are seeking a thousand people to join us with $1000, some may come in at $100, others may be able to join with over $10,000.”

The project’s description cites data from the National Farmers Union that says food producers earn 14.6 cents for each dollar consumers spend while the rest goes outside for processing, marketing, shipping, storage and other services. The food hub aims to help producers sell products to consumers within the region.

“This project will keep more food dollars in our local coastal community,” project co-founder Jared Gardner, an area beef producer, said in a news release. “We believe the Astoria Food Hub should be owned by the food producers, local businesses, and people from the communities we serve.”


Link to Portland Business Journal Article

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