On September 28, 2021, the Board of Supervisors (Board) approved the initial American Rescue Plan (ARP) Expenditure Plan, which included $2 million for the Yolo Regional Food Hub project (Project) under the Priority Project category. The nonprofit New Season Community Development Corporation submitted this proposal to Yolo County staff, which was reviewed and considered by the Board on multiple occasions. Staff and the Project team have continued to communicate and meet to progress this work, and have determined that a phased strategy will suit both the County and Project team best. The phased strategy is described under the project description below.
Yolo Regional Food Hub
The Project would develop a regional food hub in Esparto, in partnership with the Yolo Food Bank, Fiery Ginger Farm/SPORK Food Hub, and Capay Valley Farm Shop. The Project will develop and expand existing facilities for aggregating, processing, storing, and distributing farm produce grown in Yolo County and surrounding areas and recovered food, as defined by Senate Bill 1383. The need for a regional food hub has been long recognized, but the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced the urgency to develop this project to provide relief to local farmers, promote healthy childhood eating habits, improve regional food security, increase employment and job opportunities, and stabilize local food markets. Furthermore, the Project supports the County's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan in the areas of Flourishing Agriculture, Sustainable Environment, Robust Economy, and Safe Communities.
The Project objectives are anticipated to take place over several years, within the horizon of ARP funding, with operations planned to continue after ARP concludes. In total, New Season Community Development Corporation is anticipating a total project cost of $7 million, with $2 million coming from County ARP funds and $5 million coming from other fundraising and grant-writing efforts (including seeking other federal funding). In order to avoid eligibility restrictions of using ARP funds as a match for other federal grants, the ARP funds allocated for this project may first be used for revenue replacement to fund general government services, with the resulting general fund savings being directed back for the Yolo Regional Food Hub Project. During recent Project meetings, staff and the Project team determined a two-step approach including the following:
The first phase would take place in 2022 and would focus on land acquisition, site environmental review, and increased grant application and fundraising efforts. By focusing the first phase on site acquisition and environmental review, the project team will be in a better position to apply for grant funding for construction and other project costs. This phase is estimated to cost $888,350 and is broken down into the following estimated expenditures:
To support this grant-making effort, County staff are engaging local grant writers and seeking internal grant writing expertise, planning to support and ensure successful grant applications in collaboration with the Project team.
- $800,000 for land acquisition
- $4,500 for Environmental Site Assessment Phase 1
- $25,000 for Environmental Site Assessment Phase 2
- $50,000 for grant application/fundraising expenses for 2022
- $8,850 New Season reporting expenses (bookkeeper, accountant)
The first action anticipated by County staff and the Project team is to finalize the purchase agreement for the Esparto property and the following describes costs and timing associated with this first phase of work (land acquisition, $800,000 listed above):
- $20,000 initial deposit due at signing (anticipated to be January 12, 2022)
- $130,000 additional deposit due February 15, 2022
- Contingency release: April 12, 2022 (90 days after signing date)
- $150,000 additional deposit due April 30, 2022
- $500,000 balance due August 1, 2022
The scope and scale of the second phase of the project is still being determined and will depend in part on the success of fundraising efforts. The Project team has requested that the balance of the County's $2 million ARP allocation for this Project ($1,111,650) be reserved for later use toward additional project costs, including additional fundraising (if necessary), soil preparation, site planning, design, cost estimating, permitting, and construction. Should fundraising efforts fall short of expectations, the project will be scaled down and reconfigured accordingly. In addition to the regular ARP project updates, County staff shall return to the Board with additional details, scope, and timing as this project progresses and evolves.
New Season Community Development Corporation shall also collect performance and outcome data associated with this Project, which will be developed by staff and outcomes will be reported to the Board. These outcomes shall cover the construction and operations of the Project, and shall span several years. Per ARP requirements, all eligible costs must be incurred between March 3, 2021, and December 31, 2024, with funds obligated by December 31, 2024, and expended by December 31, 2026.