Food hubs represent an exciting, emerging trend in local and regional food systems development. They tackle a critical need: the infrastructure and business management needed to handle the logistics of bringing food from the farm to the plate—things farmers often don’t have the time or resources to accomplish. Food hubs allow many small family farms the ability to aggregate their products to provide the quantity of goods needed to access wholesale markets. They also provide the necessary equipment to refrigerate, store or deliver their product at that scale.
Since 2004, Dan Hulse and his wife Kim have operated Terra Organics, to provide customers with a seasonal, home-grown CSA, combined with year-round delivery of premium, organically grown fruits and vegetables. During the growing season more than half of the produce distributed by Terra Organics is grown at Tahoma Farms. Although the delivery service is supplemented with crops grown outside the region, they also buy premium fruits and vegetables from several of Washington’s top organic farms. In addition, they purchase from a regional organic produce distributor, and a network of organic farms. Come learn from their experience with food hubs, and learn what exciting possibilities may be available for your farm.
Dan Hulse is a first generation farmer who combines marketing savvy with a passion for the land as part of a pioneering effort to re-vitalize agriculture in Western Washington.
Dan learned the produce industry as a warehouse manager for Organically Grown Company, one of our region’s largest organic produce distributors. Dan met his future wife, Kim, in 2003 while working at Terry’s Berries in the Puyallup Valley. The following year they leased five acres of land near Enumclaw in east King County to begin their own farm, and they started Terra Organics, a home delivery service to provide a market for their crops and select produce from other organic farms.
With their hands-on farming experience and background in organic produce marketing, in 2009 Kim and Dan made the bold step of purchasing one of three parcels at Orting Valley Farms, a 100-acre former dairy preserved by the PCC Farmland Trust in collaboration with the Washington State Wildlife & Recreation Program and Pierce County Conservation Futures Program. The PCC Farmland Trust secured a conservation easement on the land, ensuring that it is saved for organic production forever and making it affordable to a new generation of farmers.
Kim and Dan chose “Tahoma Farms” as the name for their 40-acre parcel in homage to the Native American name for Mount Rainier, which rises majestically 30 miles to the southeast. Located along the Puyallup River, the farm’s rich, well-drained soils were formed by a succession of volcanic eruptions over the past 10,000 years.