Officials hesitant to spend public money on not-for-profit venture




GREENFIELD — Proponents of the Hoosier Harvest Market food hub are trying to figure out where to turn next after a $100,000 request of taxpayer funds was turned down Wednesday.

The request, for $50,000 a year for the next two years, would have helped sustain the market, where farmers sell crops directly to consumers online and through drop-off points throughout the county.

The Hancock County Council did not vote one way or the other on the request. Though the council did not formally deny it, the lack of a motion killed the request.

“I’m disappointed,” Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension educator, said after the meeting. “I think we made a pretty good case; that was our fourth meeting discussing the same thing, and I think we made a pretty good case for it. We discussed the business plan and feasibility study that was written.”

The market, a fairly new concept for Hancock County, brings farmers together to market their products directly to consumers. Funded so far by grants, the market opened in June, offering a wide variety of produce, meat and dairy products to consumers.

The public funding – which would have come from the county’s economic development income tax fund – would have gone toward transportation, marketing and promotional materials for the food hub. Indianapolis-area magazines could be used to tailor marketing to a broader customer base, for example, and the hub could work to get local produce into area restaurants, schools and industries.

The funding could also go toward larger grant opportunities, providing a local match to help sustain the market for the next two years.

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