To Market, a new magazine about food and the people who produce it, explores the Legal Food Hub by highlighting farmer and food business success stories and the dedicated attorneys who contribute their time and expertise to the Hub’s work. Read the article here and look for a hard copy near your local Edible publication.
CLF launched its Legal Food Hub with one goal in mind: keeping New England’s food producers in business. A year and a half into this new program, we are delighted to announce that the Hub has crossed a major threshold in its mission to achieve this goal: we placed our 100th case and crossed the half million dollar mark for pro bono legal assistance leveraged through the program. The program has taken off like wildfire!
The Legal Food Hub provides pro bono legal assistance, workshops, and trainings to farmers, food entrepreneurs, and related organizations in order to foster a sustainable, resilient, and just food system. We launched the Hub with a pilot in Massachusetts in 2014 and expanded to Maine in 2015. In the coming year, we anticipate expansion to Rhode Island, and have plans for the remaining New England states for the future. The image below hits the high points for our progress so far.
We are pleased that this program has been able to help more than 100 farm and food businesses get started, stay on solid footing, or avoid going out of business. We are deeply grateful to our partners in the legal community who have stepped up by offering their services for free to show support for the farmers and food entrepreneurs that sustain our communities across New England. We look forward to connecting more New England businesses to necessary legal services in the years to come.
To learn more about the Legal Food Hub or sign up to receive updates, please visit: www.legalfoodhub.org.
The Maine Legal Food Hub was proud to be part of the 75th Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show held in January at the Augusta Civic Center. Hub network attorneys and other experts presented 10 workshops for farmers on topics ranging from choosing a legal structure for a farm business, to employment issues, food safety, and farm transition. Thirteen unique presenters connected with over 100 farmers, including many seasoned and aspiring producers.
Two additional sessions gave farmers an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Hub staff and network lawyers. The message to farmers: there are many ways to accomplish farm-related goals, but there are no off-the-shelf solutions. Every farm has unique assets and challenges, so it’s crucial to include an attorney as part of the farm’s advisory team.
In addition to workshops, Hub volunteers reached hundreds more farmers through the information at our exhibition table. Although many of the folks who stopped by had not heard about the project previously, the positive response from everyone we talked to was energizing! There’s clearly a need for the Hub’s core service: matching farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food-system organizations with network lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance.
This high-energy weekend had three big goals. First, to transform Maine into the sustainable food production engine for New England… and beyond. Second, to incentivize new businesses that bring more value to local farmers and fishermen. And, finally, to craft food business models that open new ways of getting our food from farm and sea to plate, while baking in social and environmental values.
The Hub was proud to be part of this weekend. We helped teams as they workshopped their business ideas. One of the teams – the New Beet Market – is now receiving legal assistance through the Hub. The weekend illustrated the importance and value of the Legal Food Hub. More and more farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food-related organizations working to grow a socially and environmentally responsible food system are receiving assistance through the Hub, getting trainings on critical legal issues, and connecting with myriad other individuals and organizations helping to grow our community-based food system in Maine.
Frinklepod Farm and the New Beet Market tied for second place. Read more about all the winners here. The Hub congratulates everyone that competed during the weekend. It proved a valuable experience for all teams to receive technical assistance and focus intensively on their businesses.