Food Hub Coming to Springdale Will Support Farmers, Food Entrepreneurs and Northwest Arkansas Communities
BENTONVILLE, Ark., March 2, 2022 — A new food hub will offer resources to farmers, food entrepreneurs and Northwest Arkansas residents. The hub, named Market Center of the Ozarks, will be a 45,000-square-foot facility in downtown Springdale that provides crop aggregation capabilities, commercial kitchens and community spaces for learning. The Walton Family Foundation supports the development of the facility as part of Northwest Arkansas Food Systems, an initiative focused on improving access to local food.
"Market Center of the Ozarks is another bold step to position Northwest Arkansas as a national model for locally grown food," said Tom Walton. "This innovation and community hub will offer farmers and entrepreneurs the support they need to get healthy food on tables across the region."
Market Center of the Ozarks will offer farmers areas to aggregate and process crops for wholesale. Washrooms, cold and dry storage, loading docks and office space will also be available. The facility will include resources for value-added processing to help farmers maximize their crops with offerings like fresh-cut and frozen produce for school lunches and hospital food service.
"This food hub is great news for the region and for small-scale local farmers like myself," said Andrew Schwerin, owner of Sycamore Bend Farm. "The resources it will offer will help us deliver our organic produce to more people in Northwest Arkansas and provide a gathering place for producers to connect with buyers."
The hub will provide food entrepreneurs with certified commercial kitchens and coworking spaces for technical assistance and culinary education. It will also include areas for community learning and gathering for Springdale and Northwest Arkansas residents.
Springdale’s centralized location in the region provides access and opportunities for farmers across Northwest Arkansas and will enhance the distribution of locally grown food. Market Center of the Ozarks will complement the growing vibrancy of Springdale’s downtown. It will be located near popular amenities like the Razorback Regional Greenway and community resources like The Jones Center.
"Despite Northwest Arkansas’ growth, there are families who continue to lack adequate access to fresh food," said Amanda Echegoyen, COO of Community Clinic. “This facility will improve access to affordable, locally grown fruits and vegetables to ensure under-resourced communities can benefit from a healthy diet.”
The facility’s name celebrates Springdale's rich and diverse agricultural heritage spanning decades. The first known use of the phrase was on a 1950s chamber of commerce billboard welcoming visitors to the area and hailing it as the "Main Street of N.W. Arkansas" and “Market Center of the Ozarks.”
The nearly $31 million center will help increase regional economic activity, encourage innovative product development and generate new jobs for the region. Patterhn Ives, a St. Louis-based architecture firm, will oversee the building’s design. Construction is expected to begin in June 2022, with an early 2024 completion date.
Northwest Arkansas Food Systems focuses on strengthening the capacity of small and mid-size farmers to grow fruits and vegetables for locals. The program supports new and existing farmers by connecting them to educational opportunities, land, technical assistance, capital and new markets.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.