Agriculture Innovation Center
A strong agricultural sector builds sustainability and resiliency into communities, and the Wayne Tomorrow! Initiative sees agriculture as an important driver of future economic development in Wayne County. The COVID-19 Pandemic revealed underlying weaknesses in the nation’s food and farm system, but also exposed more people to the wonders of fresh, local foods.
With empty spaces on store shelves and interrupted supply chains, people started to look to their local farmers, and the county food pantry system still continues to supplement shelf staples with local produce, milk and eggs thanks to generous community contributions.
Food Prescription Program
Wayne Memorial Hospital has also launched a Food Prescription Program for individuals with specific health conditions like diabetes and heart disease -- people who can access supplemental, nutritious food obtained through a doctor’s prescription and paid for with the program’s vouchers. The Agricultural Innovation Center would also support access to nutrition education and information on how to prepare and store food. The Ag Innovation Center concept creates a place for people to get their fresh food and other staple items from a “Food Pharmacy” with space for education on food for health and nutrition.
Space for Education & More
The concept for the project also includes a shared space for aggregating, processing, packaging and distributing local farm products, which can help multiple smaller growers and producers meet the demands of wholesale and institutional buyers. It calls for a certified kitchen to serve new and existing local food entrepreneurs and value-added businesses; as well as a place to teach consumers about food preparation, cooking and nutrition.
The facility would incorporate a variety of educational opportunities for both agricultural producers and consumers with Penn State Cooperative Extension and other partner organizations offering informative programs.
The County with the help local foundations has funded a feasibility study for the project, which got underway in late 2021.