SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A new food hub is coming to Springdale, Ark. to offer resources to farmers, food entrepreneurs and Northwest Arkansas residents, the Walton Family Foundation announced in a Wednesday news release.
The hub, named the Market Center of the Ozarks, will reportedly be 45,000 square-feet in downtown Springdale that provides crop aggregation capabilities, commercial kitchens, and community spaces for learning.
The facility is part of the Northwest Arkansas Food System, which focuses 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, the release said. 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 such as fresh-cut and frozen produce for school lunches and hospital food service.
The hub will also 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 NWA residents.
“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.”
Walton Family Foundation says the city’s centralized location in the region provides access and opportunities for farmers across NWA and will enhance the distribution of locally grown food. Market Center of the Ozarks will be located near popular amenities like the Razorback Regional Greenway and community resources like The Jones Center.
The nearly $31 million center designed by Patterhn Ives, a St. Louis-based architecture firm, will help increase regional economic activity, encourage innovative product development and generate new jobs for the region, the release said. Construction is expected to begin in June 2022, with an early 2024 completion date.