A Local Food Hub That’s Connecting Farmers, Food Businesses, and Non-Profits in Durham, NC

Bull City Cool Food Hub


Bull City Cool is a home-grown local food hub. Located in Durham, NC, construction on this project began in Summer 2014 and they expect to open for business very soon. A local nonprofit, Reinvestment Partners, is converting the historic Gulf gas and service station – most recently a used tire store – into a food hub that helps get local farmers’ fresh produce to consumers, providing cool and cold storage for Durham businesses and nonprofits. The new food hub is one of CFSA’s Food Projects.

We sat down with Peter Skillern of Reinvestment Partners to see what makes Bull City Cool so cool.


CFSA: Tell us a little bit about your business and your goals for the future.

Bull City Cool is renovating this historic building into a new local food hub.

Here’s Bull City Cool’s street corner location in the 1950s when it was a Gulf gas station.

BCCFH: We envision the Bull City Cool Food Hub as a connector – a single location that can house businesses and non-profits which support local agriculture, feed the hungry, and facilitate cross-pollination between these organizations. The local food system is really a complex web, from farm to plate; Bull City Cool is uniquely positioned by bringing multiple organizations together. Providing ample cold storage to our tenants can create more demand for local farmers, local hunger relief agencies can have access to healthy and fresh produce, and our tenants can build out the fresh produce product they provide to their clients.


CFSA: Why are you passionate about using local, sustainable foods as a part of your business plan? 
Bull City Cool's building before renovations begin.

Here’s what 902 N Mangum St. looked like in early 2012 when it was still a thrift store with very little business and even less curb appeal.

BCCFH: We think EVERYONE should be passionate about using local, sustainable foods.  Buying and eating local is a never-ending positive feedback loop that promotes a healthy body, environment, and economy.



CFSA: Tell us a little about how you work with farmers.
Inside the Bull City Food Hub

Bull City Cool Food Hub is getting ready to make veggies cool in Durham, NC!

BCCFH: Our work with farmers is primarily through the many wonderful partners we have in our Bull City Cool endeavor.  For example, Durham County Soil and Water is using their resources to connect these farmers to new potential markets.  Farmer Foodshare – one of our tenants – does land-use and maximization planning with their farmers and then buys those farmers’ produce to provide to hunger relief agencies.  The role of the Food Hub is ideally to be a regular resource and connector between the different players.


CFSA: Why is Durham a great place to be in this business?
Amelia O’Rourke-Owens, project manager for the Bull City Cool food hub’s construction

Amelia O’Rourke-Owens, project manager for the Bull City Cool food hub’s construction. She’s standing next to the sparkling storefront, which provide a crystal-clear view of the intersection at North Mangum and East Geer streets.

BCCFH: We see Bull City Cool as a connector and Durham is the best home for this Food Hub.  We have easy access to the various corners of the state via I-85, 501, and I-40.  The building itself is designed and contemplated as a shared use facility, enabling shared resources and great potential for teamwork and reducing redundancies in the field. Finally, Durham has a great spirit of collaboration, promoting a strong social network of support, and eating local!


CFSA: What are your dreams for your business? How can CFSA help you get there?
BCCFH: Our dream is to see local farmers producing (and selling!) the maximum possible amount of local, sustainable produce, local food businesses growing to scale, and non-profit organizations greening all of their hunger relief programs.


CFSA: How do you define success?
BCCFH: One dream of the Food Hub, as a shared use facility, is to help these businesses and non-profits grow. We want these organizations to scale up and possibly even outgrow us!  This creates a sustainable foundation for our tenants, and then makes way for new social-justice, food entrepreneurs to make their positive change in the community and local agriculture.  Either way, success for Bull City Cool means housing enterprising tenants who play an important connection role between producers and consumers of local food.


CFSA: Anything else you’d like to share with our members?
BCCFH: The Bull City Cool Food Hub doesn’t just have an interesting purpose, it’s a really cool space, too!  Bull City Cool Food Hub is a renovated historic gas station located at 902 N. Mangum Street in Durham.  The renovations allow for food aggregation, storage, and distribution, but we’ve preserved many of the historical features of the building as well.  If folks wants to learn more about the renovations – or see the current happenings- they can check out our blog at: www.bullcitycool.com.