Holly Hansen has a food hub on her mind. For the last year, she’s worked to create what those in the local food movement call a second mile — getting food from small farms to consumers.
Initially, Hansen had a three-part plan. First, create a food hub providing basic infrastructure for farmers, like cold, frozen and dry storage. Then, build a commercial kitchen and centralized distribution center to create a network for producers and consumers. Finally, offer marketing services, retail space, account management and wider distribution for food grown in Clark County. Hansen explained, “The over-arching purpose is to support agriculture as a lifestyle and a viable economic opportunity.”
Through an article in The Columbian and the local food activist grapevine, Hansen and her business partner, Jason Kuepfer, found out that Deda’s Bakery in Salmon Creek was closing and the owners wanted to sell. They immediately called the owners, saw the space, and agreed to buy it. Hansen skipped part one and moved to part two, the commercial kitchen and centralized distribution center. “In a perfect world, we’d do the hub, then the retail space,” Hansen explained.
Hansen and Kuepfer come to the project with a variety of skills. Hansen runs a marketing company called 411 Media. She also has a master of business administration in food systems management. Kuepfer has a degree in manufacturing and supply chain management and has worked for large corporations like Tazo Tea, Moonstruck Chocolate and Nike. Several years ago, Kuepfer wanted to open a food cart but couldn’t find a commercial kitchen. After this unsuccessful search, he thought, “Why not go out and build a kitchen where people want to work?” Kuepfer’s wife, who works with Hansen, brought them together.
In the front part of the space, people can pick up their community supported agriculture shares. Second Mile Marketplace’s CSA will be a bit different. It will include Clark County produce and artisan products (like hot sauce, cinnamon rolls and jam) made in the on-site commercial kitchen. There will be special dinners, food pop-ups and cooking classes on topics like food preservation.