Regional Food Partners Set to Operate Out of the Market Center of the Ozarks
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (April 25, 2023) – Two regional food partners – the newly formed Spring Creek Food Hub and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture – will offer resources to farmers, food entrepreneurs and Northwest Arkansas residents. Both partners will work out of the Market Center of the Ozark's (MCO) 45,000-square-foot facility, projected to open in summer 2024 in downtown Springdale.
Incubated at the Northwest Arkansas Council Foundation with support from the Walton Family Foundation, the launch of the Spring Creek Food Hub (SCFH) aims to connect farmers to the community by providing education, technical assistance and supply chain access for local farmers, improving healthy food access for all Northwest Arkansans. More information about Spring Creek Food Hub is available here.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will operate the shared commercial kitchen and offer technical and business assistance to local food entrepreneurs, allowing them to grow and scale their businesses. In addition, it will oversee the produce processing operations of MCO, giving area farmers the necessary space and equipment to transform local produce into ready-to-use fresh and frozen products for retail, catering, schools and hospitals.
“We’re looking forward to partnering in this effort because it has direct connections to so many aspects of our mission to strengthen agriculture, communities and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices,” said Deacue Fields, vice president of agriculture for the University of Arkansas System. “We will bring our unique expertise in food systems development, processing, safety and innovation to strengthen the local food supply chain.”
“The Market Center of the Ozarks gives us opportunities for continued advancements for our regional economy, new avenues of healthy food access and the ability to attract and retain new professionals and jobs in farming and food-based markets,” said Emily English, senior program officer, Northwest Arkansas Food Systems. “We’re excited to welcome Spring Creek Food Hub and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, as they further our mission to grow and sustain a successful and thriving food system in the region.”
The Walton Family Foundation supports the development of the facility as part of Northwest Arkansas Food Systems (NWAFS), an initiative focused on improving access to local food. NWAFS aims to strengthen 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.
Currently under construction, the nearly $31 million Market Center of the Ozarks 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, oversaw the building design. CDI Contractors broke ground on the facility in October 2022.
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.