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Success Stories

Buying local made easy - Yellowstone Valley Food Hub

Dani O’Donnell
Cooperatives
Food Supply
Grants
Local Foods
Photos of cooperative local produce

The Yellowstone Valley Food Hub (YVFH) is a cooperative of farmers and ranchers that came together three years ago to increase the community's access to local food. It started as an online ordering platform and quickly grew into an enduring business. Today it provides the communities of central and eastern Montana with quality food with delivery and pickup options.  

"We didn't have a warehouse. We didn't even have an office," said Annika Charter-Williams, YVFH founding member as she spoke of the early beginnings of the YVFH. "We would just weekly gather our products at another farm and put people's orders together, and then we'd have drops around Billings."  

At the start of this small business, it used coolers at drop-offs around the local area to store produce. As they grew, they began setting up refrigerators inside businesses, and eventually opened a rented warehouse space. With the help of a USDA Rural Development $36,000 Value-Added Producer Grant, the cooperative was able to lease a bigger space to store their products.  

"Rural Development helped the YVFH to not only expand into a larger warehouse space, but the grant also enabled us to expand our marketing reach and meet demand during our busiest time in the Summer of 2022." Charter-Williams added, "RD also helped the local producers from surrounding rural areas increase their product sales through YFVH."  

The Value-Added Producer Grant program aims to help agricultural producers generate new products, create, expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. The grant helped YVFH to explore new marketing opportunities like running an ad on television. YVFH’s motto is “Buying local made easy” and Charter-Williams hopes the future expansions will bring more customers to the cooperative.  

“We really would want to be the first choice of people trying to go out and buy,” she said. “It's just as easy as going to a different chain grocery store as it would be to coming to the food hub.”    

Date of Obligation
Obligation Amount:
$36,209
Date of Obligation:
Congressional District:
00