New food hub in the works

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Local Environmental Agriculture Project, a nonprofit known as LEAP, is working to increase access and affordability to local food. LEAP is trying to create a hub for local produce.

Sam Lev at LEAP has big plans in store for the barn at Heritage Point Farm.

"It's going to mean a stronger local food economy, so we're keeping jobs, we're building new farms, we're spending more of our dollars locally and then we're helping people eat more good, locally produced foods," Sam Lev, Director of Programs and Operations at LEAP, said.

LEAP is a nonprofit focused on connecting local farms and businesses to people who need food.

Currently, its barn is a miniature food hub that allows LEAP to store and provide the fruits, vegetables, and eggs they sell at farmers markets.

But the organization is looking to transform it--

"Turning this barn as it is right now into a place that is going to buy and sell large volumes of locally grown foods so we can help increase access, help grow new farms, and help existing farms expand," Lev said.

The expanded food hub should make the lives easier for farmers.

Kathleen Reed, Agriculture Extension Agent at Virginia Cooperative Extension, said, "As an aggrigator, a food hub can allow small farms to have somewhere that they can drop off produce without having to deliver. You're allowing farmers to spend their time farming."

LEAP is gathering partners and building a business plan for the future of their food hub.