Little Falls food hub, Sprout MN, connects farmers with consumers

Little Falls food hub, Sprout MN, connects farmers with consumers Main Photo

8 Jan 2020

Agriculture, Business, Community, Manufacturing, Economic Development

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — Agriculture stories this past year focused on the affects of a trade war and the impact of climate change on farmers.

Arlene Jones has a different story to tell.

She's a farmer with 80 acres and the executive director of Sprout, a food hub in Little Falls that connects local farmers with markets in schools and restaurants and with consumers directly.

"The trade wars don't impact small, biodiverse farms," Jones told the St. Cloud Times. “The trade wars are impacting the growers that have thousands and thousands of acres of mostly corn and soybeans that are sitting in grain elevators, because there's no market for them.”

The small farmers who work with Sprout don't rely on the international market, Jones said. She co-founded Sprout after she found local buyers for her own and others' produce.

"Growers that practice variety over volume are less likely to have access to markets," Jones said — and they're less vulnerable to trade actions.

The nonprofit took root in 2012 and has grown in the last three years. Sprout is home to a rental kitchen for cooking classes and small food processors, and it's a monthly marketplace in the winter and hosts other food and artistic programs.

Their marketplace expanded from 20 vendors three years ago to 45 with a waiting list.

On a recent Saturday morning the Sprout warehouse...

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