A surge in demand for locally produced foods has been trending over the last 10 years, according to a story on ThePilot.com, a North Carolina news outlet.

Local direct-marketing opportunities such as farmers’ markets, roadside stands and subscription “food hub” programs like the Sandhills Farm To Table Cooperative of Whispering Pines, N.C., have grown to meet the demand. Food hubs help aggregate and distribute locally grown foods for retail, wholesale and institutional customers.

Between 2009 and 2013, at least 145 new food hubs were created nationally. North Carolina hosts 19 active hubs, including the Sandhills program.

These operations are meeting a growing need, but they can be labor-intensive and may have difficulty operating as stand-alone revenue sources. Grants offset some of the costs and shared-use farm equipment can provide an affordable alternative for individual operations and hubs.

Read more about this trend and see if there are ways to become an equipment partner to food hubs and small acreage operations in your area.