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Baltimore Food Hub's First Phase Wrapping Up This Summer


The first of six buildings at the long-awaited Baltimore Food Hub will debut this summer, housing a social enterprise that will provide catering jobs and train residents in the surrounding under-served community to prep food for major employers like Johns Hopkins University, MICA, Exelon and T. Rowe Price.


The $23.5M project broke ground Wednesday; the development is overseen by nonprofits and is expected to transform a blighted swath of East Baltimore into a destination for food-related businesses.

Humanim’s 8,000 SF City Seeds building, the first to debut, will be new construction, while the remaining are historic buildings that will undergo extensive renovations, says American Communities Trust CEO China Boak Terrell. ACT and The Historic East Baltimore Community Coalition are partnering on the development of the City Seeds building.


When the campus is completed in 2018, it will house a farmers market, flex manufacturing space and offices. City Seeds will operate a commercial kitchen where its employees can prep grab-and-go food for hospitals and universities and catering for corporate clients. 

Its 10 employees are currently producing 250 to 500 sandwiches, wraps and salads per weekday for Hopkins’ Bon Appetit Management Co, and the same number of cookies for MICA’s Parkhurst Dining, City Seeds director Deborah Haust says. The Food Hub has a kitchen six times the size, and it plans to hire another 60 over the next five years, dramatically boosting its meal capacity.


The Food Hub's kitchen is also where City Seeds will prepare boxed lunches for corporate meetings and events for up to 1,800. The nonprofit has already signed up Exelon, T. Rowe Price, Legg Mason, One Main Financial and others.

The group also provides educational training for food entrepreneurs and aims to incorporate their products into City Seeds' menu. “We aim to incorporate locally sourced ingredients from small Baltimore farms and makers as much as possible,” Deborah says.


Construction on The Food Hub began five years after the project first started to percolate. Funding was a challenge in getting the project off the ground, China says.

The teaching and commercial kitchen components of the first phase needed to operate debt free to be viable in the long run. So the developers had to rely only on grants, instead of loans, from the city, state, feds and foundations. Extensive environmental remediation needs to be performed at the site, a former water pumping station.