FoodThink is a food intermediary hub that provides resources and connections that allow small farmers to reach multiple new outlets, customers and markets. In response to Eastern Market’s acknowledgement that Detroit’s food economy is shifting towards greater variety and scale, the thesis connects to Detroit’s need for expansion in the food sector by capitalizing on its diversity of local economy and food businesses. A small local farmer who grows kale and sells them at a farmer's market might sell only a portion of his or her crop. Be it whether the food hub makes a sale of crops to institutions or to food entrepreneurs who turn it into products for the market shelves, the food enables wholesale connections that farmers often either struggle with or do not have time to connect. By aggregating produce from growers, arranging distribution channels, handling paperwork, making the sale and marketing their stories, FoodThink supports growers in their food growing endeavours through its infrastructure, while gaining access to larger volume markets by coordinating a local supply chain through a network of local wholesale partnerships.

The proposal perceives the aggregation as an opportunity for a hybridized type of food hub that not only focuses on the supply chain, but accommodates a broader range of functions as an urban aggregator, assisting in food literacy and resources for farmers, supporting small businesses through retail and incubator kitchens. From a regional economic and public health perspective, it strengthens the local food economy by building relationships with growers, consumers and businesses, while bringing sustainably produced local food to a wider community of residents. While the core idea of this food hub responds to the local food supply chain, it seeks to address issues that go well beyond food, in providing pathways of change for a broader range of social, economic and ecological concerns. Using food as a cultural connector with networks of grassroots, community-based organizations and Detroit’s residents, the integration of local data and technology and a distribution model fosters consumer transparency, circular economy, and an ecologically sound food systems that connect farmers with consumers.
Faculty Advisor:
Malcolm McCullough