Poolesville is cooking up plans for a “food hub” that would connect farmers in the county’s Agricultural Reserve to local consumers.
At a town meeting Tuesday evening, Poolesville’s economic development consultant, Michael Knapp, presented several ways the commissioners could support or start a food hub.
For Poolesville, a food hub might mean a processing facility where farmers could bring raw produce, a farmers market, a food distribution center, a commercial kitchen or any combination of those possibilities.
Knapp encouraged the commissioners to have a discussion about what they want for the town.
“You’re in the middle of the Agricultural Reserve and you can go ahead and just do it,” Knapp said. “Seize the opportunity.”
But, he said, the downside to being a pioneer is that Poolesville might have to take risks without knowing the payoff.
To create the food hub, Poolesville could partner with the county, ask the county for funding, hire an independent contractor, bring other organizations to the table or develop its own food processing facility.
Knapp recommended that the commissioners develop a proposal to present to the County Council and county executive, and ask for county funding.
The town commissioners were generally in favor of the concepts, but hesitated to commit funds to an undefined project.
“I’m not ready at this moment to dedicate taxpayer dollars to this,” said Commissioner Jerome Klobukowski.
Commissioner Valaree Dickerson said she doesn’t see the town owning a food hub, but she supports the idea of one.
“It’s very tricky — how we’re going to do this, and the money we’re doing to spend to do it,” she said.
The town also is considering a winery incubator, to support the county’s wine industry, or a grape processing facility. Knapp said the Montgomery County Revenue Authority has a consultant exploring the feasibility of those facilities on the property occupied by the county’s Poolesville golf course, which may mean the removal of the golf course.
Poolesville’s commissioners said they would schedule a public meeting about a food hub for the town in the near future. The date will be posted on the town’s website at ci.poolesville.md.us.