Various factors support the timeliness and economic sustainability of the WFH; rising fuel prices, increased consumer demand for local food, and community initiatives supporting local, sustainable food production. Through its Small Farm Initiative, Ann Arbor Township has preserved more than 3,200 acres of open space and farmland (the “Ann Arbor Greenbelt” ). In 2010, a small farm incubator, Tilian Farm Development Center, was established in that Greenbelt for the purpose of populating preserved agricultural land with small farm enterprises. Recently, the University of Michigan committed to purchasing 20% of their food from local, sustainable sources by 2020, and Washtenaw County created a Food Policy Council to “support small and mid-sized farmers by fostering policies that encourage local food purchasing and production.”
Early activities at the Washtenaw Food Hub site have included restoration of the buildings and grounds, Food Hub open houses, and events for local community organizations, including the Ecology Center’s EcoRide and a People’s Food Coop event featuring Joel Salatin. Current business operations at the Washtenaw Food Hub site include Tantre Farm (CSA distribution); Lunasa (online local foods market’s product distribution and meet-your-farmer events); a hoop-house business, and Eat Ideas Farm.