Villa Maria Food Hub Feasibility Study
The Alliance for Nonprofit Resources supports organizations with administrative and networking services in the communities surrounding Butler, PA.
Through their non profit engagements, the Alliance recognized large gaps within the local food ecosystem, and crafted a vision for an ‘Innovation Hub’ that would serve the nutritional, educational, and economic needs of the surrounding community. In 2019 they identified the Villa Maria Farm, which sits on 759 acres of land gifted to the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, as an ideal location for a food hub. Simultaneously, the Convent is undergoing a strategic restructuring that is meant to identify opportunities to ensure long-term economic sustainability, despite their historically declining population. Fourth Economy was engaged to construct a plan for an Innovation Hub on the Villa Maria Farm that would address the gaps in the local food ecosystem as well as bring economic security to the Sisters of the Humility of Mary Convent.
We began the process by identifying local stakeholders and food system experts, and captured their initial visions and understandings of the role that the Villa Maria farm could play. Pairing this with quantitative data about the regional economy as it relates to agriculture and innovation, we will use a combination of desktop research and interviews to create a prioritized list of recommended activities that could be pursued at the farm. Each activity will be prioritized based on the benefit to the local economy, contribution to the community, and the financial feasibility, with some considerations weighed more heavily than others, per the client’s request.
The feasibility report was completed and presented to the Sisters of the Humility of Mary Leadership Team in June 2020. Alliance for Nonprofit Resources continues to pursue funding to launch this project and to support the management of the Innovation Hub.