Bull City Cool: Durham market for small farmers getting back on track

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's another positive sign that things we are slowly making a comeback.

Farmers and wholesalers are returning to Bull City Cool, a Durham food distribution hub where small growers can connect with local restaurants and others who need their products.

That's why the space sprang to life nearly seven years ago.

"Our intention was to create the infrastructure, kind of that middle of the supply chain capacity for these people, these growers, small food producers who are stuck in the middle," said Neal Curran with Bull City Cool.

The nonprofit redeveloped an old gas station in the heart of Durham and installed coolers.

"Refrigeration is the key component for growing the local food system," Curran said adding, "For many farmers and small producers, that's, that's an expensive threshold."

So Bull City Cool through its parent organization, Reinvestment Partners, got the financing and renovated the building to provide not only the coolers but a place for marketing small farm products to restaurants and retailers.

And now those pandemic restrictions are loosening up a bit, patrons that rent space are returning like Piedmont Wholesale Flowers.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

"This building provides a space for our 10 farms to come and provide their inventory to their customers," said Julia Carpico with Piedmont Wholesale Flowers.

She says having cooler space is a must for flowers.

Piedmont has returned after the pandemic shut down this part of the operation for a year.

"The farms are thrilled," Carpico said. "And we anticipate this to be an extremely busy season for the flower world because weddings that didn't happen, parties, anniversary celebrations, all of that now are being rescheduled."

Fortunately Bull City Cool, which is leased to Farmer Foodshare has a lot of space for keeping flowers and food fresh.

Its 500-square-foot cooler is thanks to the Golden Leaf Foundation which provided Bull City Cool a grant for $40,000 when it outgrew its old cooler.

It's an important contribution to the community.

"We're building our capacity as a region to be able to feed ourselves," Curran said.
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