Food Hub revitalizes Fallon’s farm-community connection.
WRITTEN BY KELSEY FITZGERALD
PHOTO BY TY O’NEIL
Kelli Kelly inspects organic lettuce growing in a greenhouse at Lattin Farms in Fallon
The small agricultural community of Fallon is famous for melons — particularly an heirloom variety called hearts of gold. It's less well known for items such as winter greens, delicata squash, and Fourth of July tomatoes. But for Kelli Kelly, executive director of the Fallon Food Hub, one of the most exciting parts of her job is introducing customers to the diverse array of produce being grown in the local area.
"I think one of my favorite things about the food hub is that customers trust us," Kelly says. "They come in, and we have the opportunity to talk about different product offerings, heirloom varieties of produce that they might not be used to seeing."
The Fallon Food Hub, which opened in March 2016, is a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes food producers of the Fallon region. To accomplish this mission, it operates a store in Downtown Fallon to sell fresh produce, runs a seasonal farmers' market (across the street from its store), and operates a community-supported agriculture basket program.
In addition, Kelly works directly with local farmers to coordinate which farmer will grow each crop for the CSA basket and the store. This helps ensure that the farmers aren't all growing the same thing and that the food hub will be able to sell what the farmers grow.
"The thing I think is unique about what we offer, especially for a starting farmer who doesn't have a huge operation, is that we provide an outlet for the bulk of their sales," Kelly says. "That way, the farmers can focus on farming, and we can focus on aggregating and selling their products."
The food hub got its start after Fallon received a Local Foods, Local Places technical assistance grant from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. This program helps communities develop local food economies and revitalize downtown areas.
At present, the food hub sells produce from 12 farmers in the region, including Lattin Farms, Pick'in and Grin'in, Peri & Sons Farms, Sand Hill Dairy, and others. Staff members also organize classes and workshops throughout the year, which are held in the hub store. They currently operate out of a leased space, but the staff is working with the City of Fallon to acquire land for a permanent location on Maine Street.
Kelly says that business was a bit slow in the beginning, but it has picked up significantly over the past year as the local community has discovered what the food hub is, why it exists, and how much variety of locally grown produce it offers.
"I think it's just a question of getting people in the door," Kelly says. "Once they see all of the great products that we have, they keep coming back."
Kelsey Fitzgerald is a freelance writer in Reno. She loves learning the stories of people, such as Kelli Kelly, who are working to improve local communities in the Great Basin.
Fallon Food Hub
40 E. Center St., Ste. 5, Fallon • 775-867-5625 • Fallonfoodhub.com