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Walton Family Foundation Announces Investment to Create Ozark Food and Agriculture Hub

On Wednesday, March 2, the Walton Family Foundation announced a $31 million investment in Northwest Arkansas to create a 45,000 square foot "food hub," called the Market Center of the Ozarks. The food hub will offer resources to farmers, food entrepreneurs and Northwest Arkansas residents. The facility will be located in downtown Springdale and provide crop aggregation capabilities, commercial kitchens and community spaces for learning. The Walton Family Foundation supports the development of the facility as part of Northwest Arkansas Food Systems, an initiative focused on improving access to local food.

According to the Walton Family Foundation, the Market Center of the Ozarks will offer farmers areas to aggregate and process crops for wholesale. 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 like fresh-cut and frozen produce for school lunches and hospital food service.

The hub will 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 Northwest Arkansas residents.

Construction is expected to begin in June 2022, with an early 2024 completion date.

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